Owls Blog - Owls Next Stop Premiership: The Power Of Dreams

posted 5 Jul 2012, 14:03 by Richard Brook   [ updated 7 Aug 2012, 13:34 ]
Please bear in mind that this is a heavily partisan piece for the Wednesdayite Blog - Wednesdayite are the Sheffield Wednesday Supporters Society. As such there is no attempt at professional impartiality in this piece!

Originally posted here: bit.ly/KXLQtV
With the European Championship’s done and dusted, football fans around Europe will be turning their collective attention, back towards their many and varied domestic leagues. For Wednesdayites this means turning our attention back to the pre-season build up, preceding our return to the second tier of English football – The Championship.

Wednesday’s new home shirt as already been unveiled and it includes a new sponsor logo, marking the continued corporate involvement of, car dealership, the Gilder Group with the club. Part of this logo is given over to the message of Honda Worldwide – “The Power Of Dreams”, and that is just what pre-season should be all about, for every football fan. Dreams.

Pre-season is that time of a football fan’s year when all that exists is anticipation, and absolutely no worry whatsoever. Kit launches, fun-days, signings, friendlies and the season itself, all too slowly, come around as we wait impatiently for something to fill our Saturday afternoons. So we compare squads, form, transfer activity and circumstance with the rest of our league and convince ourselves, whether realistic or not, that this just might be “our year”. Pre-season is most definitely a time for dreaming. Wednesday’s squad is coming together nicely and transfer activity that includes a former England international goalkeeper coming in to his peak years, who once signed for Liverpool for £6 million, is beyond expectations. In addition to this Wednesday’s form under Dave Jones has been exemplary. It would be very easy for Wednesday fan’s to get carried away. So let’s do just that.

Amongst the comparisons made most frequently, by Wednesdayites, this summer have been those between the Owls and Southampton and Norwich. These two teams have made the shortest visits possible to the Championship, en route to their respective returns to the promised land of the English Premier League. Any Wednesday fan would be thrilled if we were fortunate enough to follow in the footsteps of these two clubs, but to expect this would be incredibly unrealistic. Pre-season isn’t the time for realism however.

Since we’re at the height of pre-season dreamland, let’s forget about Norwich and Southampton and let’s take a look at Bulgarian football instead. Last season the Bulgarian top flight was won by a club who just two years earlier had been plying their trade in the third tier. In fact Ludogorets completed a league and cup double by winning their first ever league title in a final day showdown, with title rivals CSKA Sofia. Having begun the match in first place by two points, CSKA will undoubtedly count themselves unlucky, having seen the ball rebound off the frame of the goal on three occasions during the crucial deciding game. The match and the title were decided by a solitary Miroslav Ivanov goal, as the game ended with a player each and CSKA’s coach having been sent off. Ludogorets owner Kiril Domuschiev has invested in both the infrastructure of the club and in allowing the coach, Ivaylo Petev, to build his squad of experienced home grown talent, and emerging foreign potential.

A less financially well off team couldn’t win one of the big European leagues though could they? Well Paris Saint Germain didn’t win the French league this year. For all their Qatari financial backing PSG were beaten to the title by Montpellier. The runners-up had assembled a squad at a price of around £100 million. The champion’s squad had cost club president, Louis Nicollin, just £5.6 million. If money talks that loudly someone didn’t tell Montpellier.

Honda Worldwide’s website says of their message: “When we pursue our dreams, we feel empowered. This power, in turn, connects us to others who share the same dreams. It gives us the strength to overcome great challenges. It inspires us to spread the joy of our dreams to other people. Ultimately, the power borne of a dream is a creative force...” Whether one views this as a genuinely profound statement, or more cynically as a terrific piece of work by the marketing department, surely all Wednesday fans must recognise the inherent grain of truth within this quote.

The success of last season coincided with a change of mindset at Hillsborough that began with Milan Mandaric’s takeover, and continued under the management of first Gary Megson and then Dave Jones. The feel-good factor showed through in the way the players fought for the club. Such displays of character brought a response from the crowd, which led, in turn, to the players fighting harder still. To borrow the terminology of our sponsors, pursuing our dream connected us. The once fractured fan-base was reconciled (I am not using the “U-word”), the players were as one, the whole club was unified (that particular “U-word” is fine). The result – automatic promotion - was something that looked desperately unlikely with 2 games to go, and impossible with two months of the season remaining. Once again in Honda’s parlance the dream became a creative force.

As we head towards our opening day fixture at Derby, Wednesday fans should remember what was achieved last season. No-one should play down the importance of true support. When the season kicks off in just over a month’s time, get right behind the boys, keep behind them no matter what and dare to dream. Maybe between the board, the management, the players and the fans we might just be able to create another season to remember.

Dreams do come true sometimes. If you don’t believe me look out for Ludogorets in the draw for the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.