League Insider - Owls

Rob Parrish takes a look at the talking points from the Football League in our weekly feature.

Wednesday: Testing times

Sheffield Wednesday's attempts to return to the Championship at the first time of asking suffered another setback on Saturday when Southampton secured a 1-0 success at Hillsborough.

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The Owls have now lost four successive League One fixtures to slide down the standings after initially setting the pace at the summit, with their latest reverse sparking angry protests from sections of the home support.

Unhappy fans were also quick to vent their spleen on various phone-in shows, with one supporter furious at their current plight as, as he put it, the club 'deserved' to be back in the Premier League and 'did not belong' in League One.

Maybe I'm missing something, but the only teams who 'deserve' to be in the Premier League are those who have achieved success through results on the field. And the 24 teams currently in League One 'belong' there for exactly the same reason - results on the field.

It does not matter in the slightest how many trophies adorn your cabinet from days gone by, how many years you have previously played at the highest level, the perceived grandeur of your stadium or the number of fans who troop through the turnstiles on a weekly basis. All of this is secondary to the only thing which matters. Results.

Clearly, some Wednesday fans need a reality check as there are 23 other teams in League One whose followers aren't scouring dusty copies of the Football Yearbook to check the last time they played top flight football, or to compare their record attendance, and are focused more on backing their team on the field.

This is not to say that Owls supporters should not be disgruntled at the current state of affairs in S6 - the on and off-field miseries of the past decade would drive most to distraction - but expecting success is simply wrong. It needs to be earned.

Owls boss Alan Irvine made the point before the season that only twice in the last five years have clubs managed to make an immediate return to the Championship following relegation, but there appears to be a level of anticipation among some Wednesdayites that they should sweep all before them this term.

Events behind the scenes in South Yorkshire are doing little to aid Irvine's hand, with the club a reported £20million in debt and forced to fight off a winding-up order and transfer embargo as chairman Howard Wilkinson - who has warned receivership would follow if he walks away - searches for major new investment.

So the supporters who make the trip to Hillsborough on Tuesday evening for the clash with Oldham - another former Premier League club, incidentally, but not one whose fans trumpet their right to return to the top-flight - would perhaps be wise to encourage their side to success, rather than simply demanding it.


Congratulations to Portsmouth for claiming their first win of the season with a 6-1 drubbing of 10-man Leicester City on Friday evening to climb off the foot of the table.

But the Fratton Park club did little to endear themselves to the wider football community in midweek with their complaints over Genoa's apparent non-payment of an instalment of the transfer fee for Kevin Prince Boateng.

Coming just months after the South Coast outfit entered administration with debts in excess of £130million, it seems a little rich for Pompey to be getting on their high horse over missed bills.


Further congratulations should be directed to Northampton Town following their stunning success over Liverpool at Anfield in the Carling Cup.

Regardless of the fact that manager Roy Hodgson sent out his second string to tackle the Cobblers, Ian Sampson's men deserve all the plaudits they receive for humbling the seven-times winners of the tournament in front of their own fans by holding their nerve in a penalty shoot-out.

And Sampson successfully kept his squad's feet on the ground as they returned to League Two duties on Saturday, with the Cobblers claiming a 2-0 Sixfields success against Bradford, shortly after learning their 'reward' for defeating the Reds was a trip to Ipswich in the last 16 of the tournament.