Sheffield Wednesday are heading into a huge month right at the start of 2021, as Tony Pulis looks to reshape his squad and give the Owls the best chance of fighting off relegation in the Championship.
Pulis has inherited a squad with undoubted quality, but missing the key ingredients to be successful in his style: a natural goalscorer to lead the line, a commanding spine and some natural width.
January will be a month where Pulis goes in search of players to fit what he wants and needs at Hillsborough. One man already linked (Football Insider) is Andre Green. The free agent has reportedly started talking to Wednesday again after Pulis’ predecessor, Garry Monk, previously showed interest.
What the 22-year-old brings you is width. He was a great prospect at Aston Villa and showed signs of the player he could become on loan with Preston and Charlton. Simply, Green just needs a manager to now show faith in him and offer him a route back into the game.
Green would be competition for Kadeem Harris and Adam Reach at Hillsborough, whilst also offering Pulis the chance to really stretch opposition with the width of his side. On a free, it’s a no-brainer really.
However, any move for Green has to be the start of Wednesday and not the end. January remains huge and there are big gaps to plug in that squad.
Dominic Iorfa is a big loss at centre-back, whilst Aden Flint’s injury means it is fairly unclear, if at all, when he’s going to be able to return to the fold for Wednesday. Chey Dunkley is returning from injury now and Tom Lees is trying to rediscover his best, but there’s too much pressure on that pair.
Pulis will want a commanding figure at the back that truly suits his style; direct and no-nonsense. That’s all that will be asked for.
Midfield is also a position that’s interesting at Wednesday. Pulis has options in there (good ones at that), but the midfield general he craves doesn’t seem to be available.
The craft of Barry Bannan is useful and he remains a key player even under the new manager, but there’s no Jon Obi Mikel. Pulis signed the former Chelsea midfielder for his Middlesbrough squad at the Riverside Stadium. That’s the type of signing he might be leaning towards in January.
Finally, the most pressing position of all: a striker.
Wednesday has scored only 11 goals in the Championship this season, leaving them with the second worst record in the division. Only Derby County have scored less than the Owls and they’ve played a game less.
Pulis has made no secret of the fact that he sees some of his options (Josh Windass and Callum Paterson) as No.10s rather than players to lead the line. Others like Jordan Rhodes are just out of favour.
Whoever is targeted in this area needs to be robust, willing and, most importantly, a goal threat. Pulis’ style can leave you isolated and you need to have broad shoulders in more than one sense to carry the burden.
January needs to be the month where Wednesday find square pegs to fill square holes. Green would suffice, but he’s got to be the start of a big month at Hillsborough.
Failure here would leave Wednesday unequipped for the battle they face in 2021.