Sheffield Wednesday made the perfect start to the 2020/21 campaign on Saturday, beating Cardiff City 2-0.
It’s been a tough 2020 for Wednesday under Garry Monk, with play-off hopes dashed at the end of the previous campaign and a 12-point deduction leaving them facing an uphill battle this season.
However, there was a spirited and motivated outing in South Wales, with first-half goals from Josh Windass and Jordan Rhodes wrapping up the points.
Quiz: What club did Sheffield Wednesday sign each of these 14 players on loan from?
As the table currently stands, Wednesday remain nine points adrift at the bottom of the Championship, but this was a major statement from Monk’s side and they will be looking to cut that further in the opening month of the season.
Here, we look at some Wednesday talking points following the opening day win…
New signings make the difference
Windass was, of course, on loan at Wednesday last season, but he’s back for more this year and has hit the ground running.
He opened the scoring after a progressive ball from Izzy Brown early on, with the Chelsea loanee another new signing making a difference on debut as he capitalised on a Cardiff mistake.
Later in the half, Windass was involved again, flicking on a well-worked set-piece to allow Rhodes to poke home from under the goalkeeper’s nose.
That pair were the only ‘new’ faces in the starting line-up, but Elias Kachunga stepped off the bench and there is still Chey Dunkley to come into the mix when he’s fully fit.
It’s a tough window to deal in, but already Wednesday’s business is looking shrewd and, in Windass and Brown, they’ve contributed to three points already.
A sign of the old Jordan Rhodes?
You have to taper expectations when it comes to Jordan Rhodes.
He’s been a poor signing for Sheffield Wednesday and there have been plenty of false dawns before for him at Hillsborough.
However, his performance for 66 minutes on Saturday was positive and a goal will give him confidence to push on.
Monk has limited options to lead the line and Rhodes is his only out-and-out striker. That’s concerning for the boss, but it might work in the player’s favour.
He knows he’s guaranteed games at the moment and that looks to have lifted the pressure of expectation that’s weighed him down.
Additionally, James Beattie is now involved on the backroom staff under Monk and that too can only be a positive for Rhodes.
The former Premier League forward has done fine work with Chris Wood at Leeds and Che Adams at Birmingham, preparing that pair for a crack at the top-flight.
If he can get his teeth into Rhodes and the striker can build on this start, Wednesday have a ‘No.9’ capable of scoring 15+ goals.
Battling spirit to be admired
Not many have given Wednesday much hope this season following their 12-point deduction, and when the fixture list threw them Cardiff away first up a home win looked a banker.
However, the Owls have battled for three points despite having less possession and have kept a clean sheet in the process.
It’s early days and there’s still a lot of work to be done, but this was a sign that Monk’s side are up for the challenge ahead, which is all that can be asked at this stage.
This win was a positive start and the fans will admire the desire on show.