Sheffield Wednesday skipper Tom Lees has outlined his desire to see the rest of the season played in front of crowds rather than behind closed doors as uncertainty continues to surround the footballing world.
The EFL have recently postponed all football in the Championship until the earliest time of the 30th April, meaning that Sheffield Wednesday’s scheduled final game of the season against Middlesbrough is now their next game in the calendar and means it’s the ninth-last of the campaign.
The break from action has probably come at the best possible time for the Owls after their wretched run continued just before the postponement. A 5-0 defeat away to Brentford asked fresh questions of the current Wednesday squad and the management by Garry Monk, with some of the ‘defending’ for the goals leaving a very ill taste in the mouths of the Owls faithful.
With unprecedented times now facing society and a current lockdown (to all intents and purposes) seeing football clubs not be able to continue their training regimes or play league matches, there are questions over how the rest of the season should be tackled.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Owls skipper Tom Lees has been commenting on how the current situation affects the squad, and how he hopes it will be resolved for the rest of the season. He stated: “It is unknown at this stage, how or if the remainder of the season will be played.
“I don’t think as players we would have felt the same playing the games in front of empty stadiums with no matchday atmosphere which has reaffirmed the importance of the role supporters play in football.
“The overall reaction of those in football has reflected this, with most managers and players stating that games, if possible, shouldn’t be played until fans can attend safely. As I’ve said before, everyone has their own story at home or personally, so you never know who you may be sitting next to or in front of at a game.
“All supporters’ health is equally as important so in the end, the decision is the right one and protects everyone. No one has had to miss out. In the future, we may have to play in closed stadiums, who knows, but hopefully, that can be avoided.
“Back to the football side of things, we found out from the EFL on the Friday before the Forest game that football was being postponed and new restart dates were given. We have not been playing well and results were not what we wanted. There was a lot of disappointment and anger around. We had a meeting with the manager on Friday and it was basically outlined that we will carry on training as normal.”
Lees also took time to comment on how the players are handling their time away from the training ground. He added: “We need to maintain and also improve our fitness, work on our games individually and collectively and use the time we have to make sure that when the game does restart, we are ready to go because it’s a big set of remaining fixtures.
We didn’t deserve to have any time off, although it felt like all the football world was closing down around the country. Hopefully, the benefit of staying fit and training will show later on.
“We trained for the week which was weird as there was no end date or target of a restart to work towards, as the date kept getting put back further.
It’s just a very weird situation for players who, for all their lives, set their week out building up to a Saturday. We just had to take the latest date as a given and have that in our mind when training and working. As it stands, we are all healthy and feeling OK.
“Now as I write this though, the decision to train or not is out of anyone’s hands. It’s got to the point where pretty much everything has stopped and the government are telling everyone to stay at home. Before we left, we had another meeting and the fitness and conditioning team gave us a presentation on why we need to keep training at home and try as much as possible to maintain the fitness we have.”
The Owls captain signed off by saying: “We all wish you the best during these tough times and hope you stay safe and look after each other.”
Have you paid attention to Wednesday’s 19/20 season?
Lees is spot on in his verdict of both the current problems that the world faces at the moment and the comparably minor issue of how the club tackle their crisis of confidence.
Wednesday’s form has been abysmal in 2020 and they need to use this time away from the pitch to reset.
There’s no telling whether the rest of the season will go ahead but Lees and other players have a massive point to prove to show they have a future at Hillsborough.
Training at home might not be ideal but the players will be able to maintain good enough levels of fitness for the return to normality.