Sheffield Wednesday were thumped 5-0 at home to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday following a first-half red card to Massimo Luongo.
The Owls came into this game in very high spirits following two very impressive wins at the AMEX and Elland Road against Brighton and Leeds respectively in the FA Cup and the league.
However, they were brought back down to Earth with an almighty bump as Blackburn hit five past them at Hillsborough to see Garry Monk’s side slip to tenth, having started the weekend in the play-off places.
Wednesday got off to a poor start as Lewis Holtby opened the scoring after 19 minutes before Massimo Luongo was controversially sent off for the hosts for an alleged stamp on Lewis Travis, which opened up the floodgates at Hillsborough, where Rovers made it three before the interval, adding the fourth and fifth in the second half.
With such a crushing defeat leaving Monk’s men licking their wounds, we take a look at three things we learnt about Wednesday from the weekend’s embarrassment…
The red card killed them
Having been 1-0 down to a Lewis Holtby strike, Wednesday were already on the back foot and needing to get back into the game quickly. However, they were dealt a huge blow in the 23rd-minute when Massimo Luongo was deemed to have stamped on Travis in a challenge in midfield, much to the bemusement of the majority of Hillsborough.
While the red card looked very harsh on Luongo, it completely shattered any of the side’s confidence that they could get anything and Blackburn cut through them at will after this.
Going a goal and then a man down at home against a side well set-up to hit you on the break was always going to be teed up well for Blackburn to get the result against the Owls.
Wednesday have fought back to snatch points here and there throughout this season but an early red card was always going to plummet their confidence after two big wins.
Shape went to pieces
Garry Monk’s sides typically set up in a very organised manner, providing the defence with the structure to hold out most defences and have a platform to spring counter-attacks and be very ruthless on the break.
However, Wednesday had no chance to that on Saturday as their defensive shape essentially went out of the window following Luongo’s dismissal, which isn’t surprising given that he is a holding midfielder.
Wednesday’s reaction to the red card came when Blackburn had just made it 2-0 and the game had already gone beyond them, but the substitutions Monk made did nothing to help stem the flow of Blackburn’s attack.
Monk brought on a straight swap of Atdhe Nuhiu for Sam Winnall after 0-2, but then brought on two defensive players in Tom Lees and Sam Hutchinson at 0-3, presumably for damage limitation, but it did nothing to help the Owls track runners into the box for each goal.
The shape went to pieces as Blackburn’s midfield ran riot all game, being given far too much space in and around the penalty area to create and score chances.
Can you name these ex-Sheffield Wednesday midfielders?
The Leeds win means nothing now
After such a huge win at Elland Road last week, one would have thought the players would be in high spirits and using it as a platform to push towards promotion, but such a disappointing defeat completely devalues the hard work of the side last week.
That win moved Wednesday up into the top six and could have been the start of a great run of form, given how well they played, but that hard work was thrown away as this defeat plummeted them down to tenth.
Wednesday’s main problem that has stopped them from being convincing play-off candidates is their huge lack of consistency from week to week and if they are to find their way into the top six, come May, then they need to put these kinds of performances to rest quickly.