Ten games into the season there’s a pre-match punditry breakfast round at ours. Everyone stumps up a fiver and writes down where they think the Owls will end the campaign.
Last year I plumped for 7th – just missing out on the playoffs, probably by a single point, probably due to a last minute own goal. (Yes, I’ve been following Wednesday for a long time). I was delighted to be wrong.
Across the years, through all the leagues, not one of the breakfast pundits has ever backed a top of the table finish. After the unexpected highs of last season, will our kitchen see a flurry of fivers placed on one of the automatic promotion places for 2016/17?
Much was made of Wednesday not beating any of the teams that finished above us in 2015/16 (play offs aside). Derby and Brighton are still there to test us. Will newly relegated Newcastle, Norwich and Villa be easier for Carlos to crack than Boro, Burnley and Hull were? Or will there still be five well organised teams above us at the end of the season?
Wembley was great but it showed up our flaws, particularly in the final third of the pitch. Fletcher could provide a different dimension and take some pressure off Forestieri. Will it be enough?
Chris Hughton has the tactical nous – and motivation – to cancel us out, home and away. And with Barnsley and others still seeing Hillsborough as a big day out, it’s strange to think that our opening game against Villa is already looking like a six-pointer.
So when this season’s pundit predictions are popped into the Russian doll of Lee Peacock for safekeeping, I might well be sticking with 7th place. But I reserve the right to change my mind…
This post was first published on www.OwlsAlive.com on 29 July 2016.