Sunday 24 January 2016

Wednesday's Class of 93 v the Class of 2016

In dark January days there are few better things to do than make lists. Especially when it comes to nerdily analysing footy. As such, for a bit of fun, I thought I'd measure up Sheffield Wednesday's current first team with the 11 who took the field in the initial 1993 FA Cup final. Here’s who I’d put in the team, do you agree? Comment below.
Goalkeeper: Keiren Westwood - In comparing the Irish keeper – signed by us in July 2014 – with Chris Woods you realise how much the game has changed for the number 1. Both men are 6ft2in but Woods appeared a towering player commanding his area, holding on to the ball and thumping out goalkicks. Westwood, by contrast, is more agile, always scrambling up after plucking the ball from a crowd of legs and swiftly distributing it, even sweeping when he has to. In the final, Woods, a fine keeper, lost out to his England rival David Seaman and he would likely be beaten to the jersey by Ireland’s shotstopper in the modern game.
Right-back: And number one, was Roland Nilsson, and number two, was Roland Nilsson…
Centre-back: Viv Anderson CBE - captained the side (Carlton Palmer took on those duties in the replay) and a redoubtable presence at the back.
Centre-back: Glenn Loovens - The fact the Owls snapped up the cultured Dutchman, once valued at £2.5m by Celtic, on a free after plying his trade in Zaragoza is remarkable. He’s been rock solid over the last two seasons playing a big part in last season’s string of shut outs and helping command a defence which has had several keepers behind it in recent weeks. He outmuscles one of the Blue and White Wizards' most remarkable players – defender turned attacker Paul Warhurst – for a spot in the dream team.
Left-back: Nigel Worthington - The Northern Irishman (who was joined by countryman Danny Wilson in the replay) was a gangly force of nature down the wing. His modern-day peers: the talented Daniel Pudil and Joe Bennett should dig out the tapes.
Right-wing: Chris Waddle - That. Free. Kick.
Midfield: Fernando Forestieri - "Oh, Forestieeeeeri!" The little playmaker (born in Rosario, Argentina to Italian parents) is one of the most naturally talented players to have graced the Hillsborough turf in the 23 years since that hazy May final. His 11 goals in 21 appearances have provided impetus to an attack which, while prolific, has few reliable goalscorers. His deft touches, work rate and clinical passing make him the player most likely to have slotted into Trevor Francis’ flowing football. He outmuscles the USA’s finest, John Harkes, for the spot.
Midfield: Barry Bannan - A close call with both Carlton Palmer, who he replaces, and the smooth style of Keiran Lee, Bannan’s ability to tackle effectively and pick out a pass mean he’s got to be in. A Premier League quality player whose new contract is the best piece of business the Owls have done in the January window so far.
Left-wing: John Sheridan - He’d already proved himself at Wembley before that FA match, and remains a much-talked about Owls legend.
Striker: Mark Bright - Impossible not to like with that beaming smile and lethal boot. Although he was outjumped by Andy Linighan in the replay for the goal (despite doing his best to take him out with a sharp elbow) his header to get us there and consistent goalscoring between 1992 and 1996 make him hard to beat. Still has a soft spot for the Owls, as well as his beloved Palace. His reliability in front of goal puts the current crop – including João, Hooper and Nuhiu – deep in the shade.
Striker: David Hirst - His partnership with Bright was one to behold but the left foot of Hirsty couldn’t be overlooked. Arguably the best forward to ever pull on the blue and white it’s hard to see another striker ever reaching the level of adoration this Barnsley boy still commands in S6.
Manager: Carlos Carvalhal - For all Trevor Francis’ flair as a player and player-coach, Carlos Augusto Soares da Costa Faria Carvalhal feels a better manager. He’s had a chequered history with his staggering 14 previous clubs and was an unremarkable defender but has surprised in the way he’s quickly established a philosophy, rapport with the fans, a dominant persona on the touchline and handled setting a marker for a new era under new ownership with ease.
Full line-ups:
1993 - Chris Woods, Roland Nilsson, Viv Anderson, Paul Warhurst, Nigel Worthington, Chris Waddle, Carlton Palmer, John Sheridan, John Harkes, David Hirst, Mark Bright
2016 - Keiren Westwood, Vincent Sasso, Glenn Loovens, Jack Hunt, Daniel Pudil, Sam Hutchinson, Fernando Forestieri, Barry Bannan, Keiran Lee, Ross Wallace, Gary Hooper