Sheffield Wednesday Logo

Sheffield Wednesday 0 - 2 Everton

Half-time: 0 - 2


Everton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 1999-2000 – Game 7
3pm Saturday 11 September 1999
Hillsborough, Sheffield
Att: 23,539
Derby County (a) Ref: M Halsey Oxford United (a) 
[1999-2000 Fixtures & Results] League Position: 9th [Premiership Results & Table]
 MATCH SUMMARY
Francis Jeffers Jeffers was fit enough to play but Smith rested the Scottish bravehearts, Hutchison and Collins, on the bench, giving Pembridge a start against his old club.

Everton started well, with Barmby and Gemmill getting two nice goals inside 20 minutes, but a number of spurned chances, especially by Jeffers and Campbell, kept this from turning into a rout.

Everton then allowed The Owls back into the match, with a nervous second-half performance in which they conceded midfield possession to Wednesday. But the aging defence – featuring a pair of 37-year-old centre-backs – held out, and Everton were able to claim a vital three points from their first away win of the season.

 

 MATCH FACTS
   GOALSCORERS  Debuts
Sheffield Wednesday:
EVERTON: Barmby (14'), Gemmill (17') Sub: Abel Xavier
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used
Sheffield Wednesday: Sheff Wed: Pressman, Atherton, Thome, Walker, Nolan, Alexandersson (63' Donnelly), Briscoe, Sonner, Rudi (46' O'Donnell), De Bilde (63' Carbone), Booth. Srnicek, Newsome.
EVERTON: Gerrard; Weir, Gough, Watson, Unsworth; Barmby, Ward (65' Hutchison), Gemmill, Pembridge (47' Xavier); Jeffers (78' Collins), Campbell.
Unavailable:
Myhre, Williamson, Parkinson (injured); Bilic, Branch, Farrelly, O'Kane (transfer-listed), Grant (on loan).
Simonsen, Cadamarteri.
   Playing Strips  Formations
Sheffield Wednesday: Blue & white shirts; black shorts; blue & white socks. -
EVERTON: Yellow shirts; black shorts; yellow socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Sheffield Wednesday: Donnelly (75'), O'Donnell (82'), Briscoe (84')  
EVERTON: Collins (89')

 MATCH REPORTS
 REPORTS BY EVERTON FANS
Stuart Roberts Oh, what a gay day!
Jenny Roberts Enjoying mid-table mediocrity
Kevin O'Keefe And the ref was superb!
 NEWSPAPER REPORTS
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Gemmill strike seals Wednesday fate
by Steve Thomson
THE SUNDAY TIMES Everton cruise home
by Alan Combes
THE INDEPENDENT
ON SUNDAY
Carbone cannot ease Wilson's woes
by Dave Hadfield
THE INDEPENDENT Howler adds to Wilson torment
by an Independent Journalist
THE TIMES Wilson maintains brave front
by Martin Woods
 OTHER INTERNET REPORTS
EFC NEWS SITE Link to the Echo/Daily Post Match Report

THE OBSERVER Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

 
 Oh, what a gay day!
Stuart Roberts
 
This one will not live long in the memory of either Wednesdayites or Evertonians. Sheffield Wednesday are the poorest side I've seen since the Everton team that Joe Royle took by the scruff of the neck. They have some decent players, but neither confidence nor luck at the moment. Enough about them. There were some very positive things about Everton to be taken from the game however.

1. This was the first time in a long time, that we've won a game (and an away game at that) at a canter. We weren't interested in more than getting the three points, and to be honest that was never in doubt. To be able to leave Collins, Hutch and Xavier on the bench and still comfortably win an away game is encouraging. We did not play well as a team, although there were some good individual performances. I really felt yesterday, that if we'd needed to go up a gear to win, we could have done so.

2. Team spirit. I guess it's a symptom of the siege mentality that has been brought about by the incompetence at boardroom level, but to be able to take something tangible and positive from all that is a real bonus. The players are playing for each other, and also (this is the nice bit) for us. Kevin Campbell exemplifies this attitude. It's very much en vogue these days for players to kiss the badge on the shirt, but with Kevin, I really believe he means it.

3. The breath of fresh air that was M Halsey of Hertforshire. At last we had a referee who ran a game with common sense, not reputation (Rennie, Elleray take note). He had the total respect of both sets of players. I can't remember a game with so little backchat and arguing from both teams. He played advantage where possible, he was consistent, he was fair, he didn't bottle out and give 70% of decisions to the home team (which every other ref I've seen this season has). He had no choice with any of the four bookings either.

For what it's worth, here are MY opinions on the players' performances:

  • Gerrard. I thought he had his best overall game for us yesterday. He didn't have that much work to do, but his goalkeeping in general was less panicky and more competent. He came out and collected crosses with ease, and the defence seem to be quite happy with him there.
  • Unsworth. Seems to be settling back into the left-back spot. I feel it's his best position, and although his distribution can be very disappointing, his tackling is back to its best again.
  • Gough. What can you say about him? I think it's a real shame he'll only be here for a year. OK, he's a bit slower now, but what a football brain he has. Early candidate for player of the year, I think.
  • Watson. Well, he did ok...... he looked tired, and I really don't like him and Gough playing together in the centre. If Xavier can play as a right-sided defender as he claims, then I'd keep Davey Weir in the middle and put Xavier in the right-back position.
  • Weir. If ever there was an example of a player needing time to settle down, it's our Davey. When he first joined, I think all of us were a little alarmed to say the least, but now...... Well, I like him, I think he's competent, economical and tidy. I haven't particularly liked him on the right side before, but he did well yesterday.
  • Gemmill. He looked hungry, put himself about a bit and took his goal well.
  • Pembridge. I thought he was pretty anonymous.
  • Ward. This is a strange one. I think if I were Walter Smith, I'd probably keep him now. He's put in a few encouraging performances this season, and yesterday he was more than competent. Young Julia from Huddersfield was comparing him to Ryan Giggs which does smack of hyperbole a little! Ward is definitely no central midfielder (as he showed at Chelsea last season) but on the right side he is surprisingly effective.
  • Barmby. I'm not gonna eulogise about him, everyone knows how good he is at the moment. He was the same yesterday, and his attitude is top notch.
  • Campbell. He had a couple of headers and a shot that could have brought him a goal. Goalscoring is only a part of his game. What impresses me most about him is the fact that he hardly ever gives the ball away. I've made the point about the difference between him and Ferguson before, but I'd have Campbell ahead of (even a fit) Duncan every time.
  • Jeffers. Clearly not fit, but he worked like the devil until we were 2-0 up, and then (somewhat understandably) he relaxed and his performance suffered as a result.

Man of the match? M. Halsey of Hertfordshire.

The two highlights of the day were:

Julia's story about falling off a treadmill when watching Everton v Newcastle on telly was by far and away one of the best stories I've heard in years. You should dine out on that one Julia......

And last night in Sheffield, I left my other half on his own while he got chatted up by a 6-foot skinhead leather-boy with a foot fetish and a pet tarantula called Phillip. Which was funny as fuck.

I never felt more like singing the blues, when Everton win and Liverpool lose, oh Everton, you've got me singing the blues.


 
 Enjoying mid-table mediocrity
Jenny Roberts
 
The fixture list and league table beckoned me to Sheffield. With the Owls having managed only one meagre point from a potential eighteen, this much-awaited encounter looked quite likely provide our first away points.

After listening to the Liverpool-United game, and after some dodgy navigating from yours truly, we arrived at the meet. The mood was one of cautious optimism. Before long, it was time to make our way to the ground, and we began to descend the infamous hill which leads to Hillsborough.

Inside the ground, I ascended the steps, and as the three other surrounding stands rose slowly into view, the impression they left was unfavourable. Hillsborough was deserted, Selhurst-style. Are we all here? Where are all the others? Were there no other secret stands hidden away elsewhere with an extra 15,000 fans?

However, our travelling support was magnificent. I could only spy a handful of unoccupied seats. With three clusters of Sheff Wed fans in three different stands, they made no noise to trouble us, with the exception of the monotonous drum. We even silenced this, singing along with "Shitty ground."

To begin with, Sheffield looked quite competent, but soon arrived the inevitable collapse. A beautiful ball was chipped into the box from the left. It found three Everton players forward. Kevin Campbell leapt to chest the ball down, with Barmby and Jeffers racing through. Jeffers fell, with the ball between his feet, and somehow twisted so that he set up Barmby. The finish was exquisite. 0-1, and euphoria erupted in the away section.

It took us just a few minutes to break through again. Mitch "Ryan Giggs" Ward passed to Jeffers just outside the box, who curled in an inviting low cross. Barmby, sliding, missed the opportunity for his second. Scott Gemmill, however, lurking on the left-hand side of the box, readily R.S.V.P.'d, belting the ball confidently into the back of the net. Pure and simple football. Easy.

It was no surprise that the burden of the foot was removed from the pedal. Everton allowed Sheffield a little more time on the ball, the opportunity to salvage something from the game – a consolation goal, perhaps. But Sheff Wed could not put the ball where it mattered, and this inability decided the fate of their afternoon, and of ours. De Bilde sent at least two shots screaming over the cross bar into Row Z, and there were other culprits too. They missed Carbone, but were too proud to play him from the start.

Gough and Watson, combined at the back, providing over 74 years and well over 1400 games experience between them, looked quite shaky at times. Gough was reasonable, but Watson is my real concern.

He looked so old, so haggard, so tired. Above my computer rests a picture of Dave, holding the FA Cup proudly aloft. That was the Watson I grew up watching and adoring. Not this one. I think that the end really is in sight for Waggy. He had just lost that calm composure of his. As it was with Southall, it would be unfair to drag a true legend through this. I cannot see him finishing the season.

After the break, we were in for more of the same relaxed Everton which had finished the first half. Were we a classier side, then we would have teased Sheff Wed in that half, but nevertheless, it was nice to watch, knowing that demoralised Sheffield were very unlikely to come back.

The referee was superb. He made a few controversial decisions – but don't they all? What I particularly liked about him was his capability to control the game without using the cards too often. He only actually booked four players – of course, one had to be ours! Collins was quite unfortunate to receive his yellow for a tackle which was quite clumsy. But without cards, you just wouldn't be watching Everton.

Hutchison found so much space when he came on in the second half. He was playing where Mitch Ward had prospered. He spent his entire appearance with his arms up in the air, hoping to be noticed by a team-mate. Had Hutch been passed to, we could have scored three, four, maybe five. But Sheffield had suffered enough, and we were quite content with the two-goal margin.

Carbone's substitute appearance was strange. The fans really didn't know how to greet him. They settled for a mixture of applause and jeers. Wednesday looked a little sharper, but still no match for a strolling Everton.

The chants were abundant. "We love you Everton" and "Grand Old Team," as usual. "Super Kevin Campbell" was a huge success with the player himself, and he raised his arms, encouraging the crowd. "Royal Blue Jersey" and "Singing the Blues" even made guest appearances. "We want Johnson out" dampened the mood a little, reminding us of the severity of this club's situation.

The final whistle came after an eternity. The players returned the applause which we gave them. It was very special, it really seemed to mean something to them, especially Campbell. Match of the Day's League table was something to savour, with a top-half Everton reaching double figures before bottom-half Liverpool. On the journey home, I suggested to Steve Allinson that maybe the fact that my ticket was free had something to do with the first away victory, and that maybe, if it was lucky, that I should have a free derby ticket. Unfortunately, he did not seem to agree! Well, you have to try, don't you?!

When I woke up this morning, and thought about the result, I wondered if I had been dreaming. I raced downstairs to check the table on Teletext. No. There we remained, resplendent in mid-table mediocrity.


 
 And the ref was superb!
Kevin O'Keefe
 
I set off for Sheff Wed really early, expecting to arrive about 12:45, but after some dodgy navigating and the nightmare of Manchester I didn't get to the ground until 1:30. A quick pint, some lunch and then into the dump that is Hillsborough.

It looked like all the Sheff Wed fans had got lost as well. The home turnout was pathetic. Before the game the tannoy announced that no more tickets were available for the Everton fans queing outside, but inside there must have been 15,000 empty seats.

Once the game got started there was hardly a peep out of them either. It seems that unlike Everton, their fans can't be arsed to turn up when the going gets tough. But you can hardly blame them. This is the worst team I've seen for a long time. They were truly awful.

Everton were in control for most of the game. The first 10 mins of the 1st half and 15 mins of the 2nd were 'sort of' worrying, but not especially so. They really are relegation fodder and if we couldn't beat a team as poor as this then we needed a kicking.

Fortunately we did win. At a canter. I knew we would be OK the moment I found out John Collins was on the bench. (I'm not his biggest fan). The goals were easy, their defence went AWOL, we could have had plenty more:

  1. Jeffers rounded the keeper to hit the side netting when he should have scored;
  2. We had two penalty decisions turned down;
  3. Campbell had a free header on the 6-yard line but was deprived by a great save from Pressman;
  4. Jeffers was free just inside the box but shot straight at the keeper.

It really was easy. And we dropped down a gear once we were two up. It was a solid, professional performance. For their part, they were reduced to hitting crosses into the box, but never from the by-line, always from deep positions. If Watson and Gough are good at anything it's dealing with bread-&-butter stuff like that.

The arrival of Carbone did have me worried for a while but, although he may be their best player, that's not saying much! There are 10 players better than him in the Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea teams.

Ratings

  • Gerrard 6 - Made one or two saves but nothing more than routine. Came out for more crosses but still doesn't command the box as I would like. Generally competent.
  • Unsworth 7 - After the Villa debacle has improved to become one of our most consistent performers. I don't rate him but he's done well lately. It was his ball to Campbell which set up the first goal.
  • Weir 6 - Much improved since his early games. Settled down well and looks like he knows what he's doing now.
  • Gough 6 - Thought he looked tired today. Made a few mistakes but got away with them. Not as good as he has been.
  • Watson 6 - Struggled against Andy Booth who was their best player but knows what he's doing and managed to keep him under wraps. Shouldn't play in the Derby, his pace has gone.
  • Pembridge 6 - Anonymous
  • Gemmill 7 - Took the goal well (actually he does look like he knows how to finish, look at the way he took the goal against Newcastle last season). Industrious and chases every tackle. Should be a regular in my opinion.
  • Ward 6 - Better than Collins! Tidy player who is winning me over. I reckon Walter doesn't fancy him though and expect him to leave soon.
  • Barmby 7 - Runs everywhere, tackles, full of enthusiasm, finishes well, tracks back, uses his brain, and most importantly loves the club. One of our best performers this season. Great goal as well.
  • Jeffers 6 - Not his day. Nothing really went right for him. Missed some chances that you expect him to take. Not fully fit.
  • Capmbell 8 - OK I admit it. I didn't rate him when Walter first wanted him but it was an inspired signing. You can take any other player out of the team and replace him with another from the squad and the team should still perform. But we've got no-one to replace Campbell. He is the fulcrum of our system. All our attacks go through him, he holds the ball up well, his control is good, he's good in the air. Without him we struggle. Worth his weight in gold at the moment. Man of the Match.
  • Xavier 6 - Not impressed. Stood in the middle while the game passed him by. Early days though.
  • Hutchison 6 - Came on and did well for 15mins. Hope we don't sell him.
  • Collins 5 - I did see him actually *gasp* run forward with the ball for 20 yards before he realized what he was doing and had to stop. And he did manage to achive in 5mins what the rest of the team couldn't in 90. Namely get booked. He's a waste of space.

Special mention for the ref who was superb. He let the game flow, let minor challenges go unpunished and just had a word. Played the advantage and had no choice with the four bookings.


 
 Gemmill strike seals Wednesday fate
Steve Thomson, Electronic Telegraph
 
SHEFFIELD Wednesday's dismal run continued as they slumped to their fourth home reverse this term.

With errant Italian Benito Carbone, who walked out after being named as substitute at Southampton, again consigned to the bench, they possessed insufficient flair and invention to hit back after conceding two soft goals early on. Walter Smith's side, with veteran defenders Dave Watson and Richard Gough to the fore, needed only to keep a steady nerve after the break to make certain of their first away win of the season.

With Wednesday having lost their opening three home games and their visitors having an identically poor start to the campaign on their travels, something had to give and early on it looked like Everton's defence might be breached first. Niclas Alexandersson was finding plenty of room for manoeuvre down the right and, when one of his crosses was only half cleared, Gilles de Bilde, a 3 million summer signing from PSV Eindhoven still seeking his first Hillsborough goal, shot smartly on the turn, prompting a diving stop from Paul Gerrard.

Everton hardly threatened before they took a surprise 14th-minute lead, courtesy of Nick Barmby's second goal of the season. David Unsworth's long ball into the box seemed to be hoisted more in hope than expectation but, with Kevin Campbell unsettling his marker, the ball broke to Francis Jeffers and the chance was initially spurned, as the England Under-21 striker fell flat on his face. Such was Wednesday's lack of cover, however, that Barmby still had time to nip in on the blindside and fire home low and emphatically.

Four minutes later, it was 2-0 as the home defence caved in once more. This time, Jeffers managed to stay on his feet long enough to send in a fierce, low cross that eluded Barmby but, as with the first strike, Everton had men to spare and Scot Gemmill gleefully lifted the ball into the roof of the net.

As Wednesday attempted to salvage the situation, there were further signs that de Bilde may yet form an effective partnership with Andy Booth and the Belgian twice went close to retrieving a goal when set up by the taller Yorkshireman, but neither effort troubled Gerrard.

An immediate roar went up at the start of the second half as Carbone warmed up on the touchline, but it was the opposition who made a change, Portuguese defender Abel Xavier making his debut at Mark Pembridge's expense.

With Wednesday's revival prospects slim, Carbone was called into action with 25 minutes left. A curious mixture of acclaim and disapproving boos greeted his arrival. Resigned silence followed as he failed to make any impression.

Report The Electronic Telegraph

 
 Everton cruise home
by Alan Combes , The Sunday Times
 
MUCH AS Wednesday manager Danny Wilson wanted it to be otherwise, Benito Carbone – the forward determined to leave – firmly occupied centre stage as Everton won comfortably at Hillsborough.

Carbone stormed out before kick-off on August 28 after being picked on the substitutes' bench for the game at Southampton and he was only a second-half substitute yesterday. "If Beni is truly committed he'll play but I'm not convinced he is. He's having a disruptive effect on the dressing room. Try asking the lads how they feel about the Southampton fiasco," Wilson said.

Wilson went on to point out that, now he is out of contract, Carbone is free to leave Wednesday – unlike himself. "I won't walk away. I'm as committed as ever and even more determined. I honestly think I can turn it round with these players."

The question is whether the board are prepared to give Wilson the time he needs. A bad result at Stoke in midweek might seriously rock the boat and names which are merely a whisper at the moment – Joe Kinnear and Graeme Souness – could be amplified.

There have been some sticky moments too for the Toffees during the two week Premiership break with talk of a management walk out. However Walter Smith kept everything under wraps as he departed the press conference before questions about matters behind the scenes.

If only Wednesday could have found 10 other players to match the heart and commitment of Andy Booth, the story might have been different. From the start he set about orchestrating the front line, sending Gilles De Bilde into some penetrating positions. But David Weir was solid in Everton's back line and possessed the confidence to set up Francis Jeffers and Mitch Ward down Everton's right wing.

To be fair, Wednesday were looking at their most inventive this season so it was particularly cruel when a ball out of defence found Emerson Thome losing his footing when faced by the twin threat of Jeffers and Nick Barmby. With the rest of the Wednesday defence caught cold, it was simplicity itself for Barmby to slot home.

Four minutes later a Jeffers' centre which was Beckham quality was completely missed by Barmby and the entire Wednesday back line. Scot Gemmill however crashed home the loose ball.

Booth and Lee Briscoe tried hard to silence the boos from the home crowd, but their moves lacked the incisiveness of Everton's forward swoops.

The point was made just after the half hour when Kevin Campbell slipped a ball to Jeffers while Thome and Des Walker stumbled in pursuit. Jeffers should have punished them but shot narrowly wide.

Carbone started warming up at the start of the second half. However, first sub on was Phil O'Donnell, to replace the anodyne Petter Rudi.

When Wilson pushed on Carbone, his maverick card, after 64 minutes it barely raised a flicker in the Everton defence. Someone should have told the Sheffield midfield that passing the ball on the ground was the only way in which Carbone could outwit the visitors' aerial supremacy.

Report Times Newspapers Ltd

 
 Carbone cannot ease Wilson's woes
by Dave Hadfield, The Independent on Sunday
 
Danny Wilson promised to maintain his battle to lift Sheffield Wednesday from the foot of the Premiership table for as long as his board allows him. Coming up are what could be severe tests of his future, away at Newcastle and in the Worthington Cup against Stoke. But first he must win his war with Benito Carbone.

Wednesday slumped to their sixth defeat of this unhappy season, leaving Wilson betraying increasing signs of exasperation at the distraction that the Italian, given a distinctly mixed reception when he came on midway through the second half, is creating for him. He admitted not having spoken to Carbone since he returned to the club after refusing to play as a substitute at Southampton two weeks ago.

"If he's committed, he'll play, but I'm not convinced about it," he said. "I've also got to think of the rest of the lads in the dressing-room and what they think of that fiasco. He is having a disruptive effect on the dressing-room and it's got to be resolved one way or the other."

Wednesday were beaten by two first-half goals in three minutes, both exposing a terrible uncertainty at the heart of their defence. They had had the better of the opening stages when, out of the blue, Everton went ahead.

David Unsworth played in a long ball from the left, Kevin Campbell, an intelligent leader of the line all afternoon, chested it down and, although Francis Jeffers lost his footing in pursuit of the ball, Nick Barmby had the time and space to come in from the left to fire it past Kevin Pressman and into the far corner.

The second had striking similarities. Mitch Ward supplied Jeffers, this time down the right, and his low cross was destined to be met by Barmby. Instead it ran on for Scot Gemmill to dispatch.

If Jeffers had been at his sharpest, he might have had two goals of his own before half-time. It also took a superb reaction save from Pressman to keep out Campbell's header in the second half.

Everton could have had a heftier scoreline with which to celebrate their rise to the heady heights of ninth in the Premiership table, but this was still more than satisfactory from their point of view.

Even after choosing to rest John Collins and Don Hutchison for most of the match after their midweek exertions for Scotland, Walter Smith saw his side dominate midfield, where Gemmill was a model of energy and enthusiasm.

The veteran centre-back pairing of Dave Watson and Richard Gough, 75 years between them, had their occasional problems with Andy Booth in the air, but otherwise it was a thoroughly comfortable afternoon.

"If we look after them they might manage a few more games yet," said Smith, ending a week in which he became embroiled in Everton's long-running take-over wrangles with a result that at least hints at getting matters right on the pitch, if not off it.

"It's a pleasing result for us, with our first away win of the season, although we've played better in spells away from home and got nothing from it," he said.

"In the first half, there were a few opportunities for either side and it could have been fairly high scoring. In the second half we tightened up a bit and didn't give away as many chances."

Against a Wednesday side which had only managed just two goals this season – both from Carbone – that was perhaps not surprising. Once the hard working Booth had gone close with a couple of headers, Everton were content to let the clock run down. For some at Wednesday, time is already running out.

Report The Independent
 

 
 Howler adds to Wilson torment
The Independent
 
IF DANNY WILSON could design his ideal footballer – and who needs one more than he at present? – he confessed after this latest defeat, his man would have the skills of Benito Carbone and the commitment of Andy Booth.

It sounds a little like cross-breeding a humming-bird with a camel – which is to say rather difficult – but it was not the fault of either of these contrasting personalities that Wednesday were beaten for the sixth time at this early stage of the season. It was lost because of a breakdown in communication between Des Walker and Emerson Thome, whose partnership in the middle of the Sheffield defence is usually one of the more reliable areas of this struggling side.

The problem is that they have an excess of players at Hillsborough, like Petter Rudi and Niclas Alexandersson, who might make a contribution in a good side, but who are not ideally equipped for the sort of dogfight that lies ahead.

The crowd might have been split on the subject of Carbone, but they were unanimous on Rudi. The Norwegian was barracked throughout an ineffective first half and replaced at half-time. But, as Hillsborough celebrated an inauspicious 100th anniversary, it was Carbone who remained Wilson's biggest problem. Having devoted most of his programme notes to bewailing the workings of the rumour mill over the last couple of weeks, he confirmed that the most outlandish rumour of all was perfectly true.

Yes, bizarre as it sounds, Wilson had refused to speak to Carbone all week, but then included him among his substitutes and asked him to perform a late rescue. That is surely an unsatisfactory half-way house.

That was also the view expressed by a substantial proportion of the Hillsborough crowd – and even Carbone's high-profile kindred spirits are beginning to distance themselves from him.

No less an authority than George Best branded him before the match as the type of foreigner who comes into British football "to take the mickey". Ah, for the good old days when we had our own, home-grown mickey-takers and did not have to import them from the four corners of the earth.

Although helped by Wednesday's uncertainties, they produced evidence that there could be brighter times ahead – at least on the field. Their wealth of experience at the back kept them steady and, on another day, Kevin Campbell and Francis Jeffers could have had three or four between them.

For Wednesday, next Sunday's game at Newcastle now assumes massive proportions. How Wilson must wish he had a few Carbone-Booth hybrids available for that showdown.

Mind you, these Frankenstein experiments have a habit of going wrong. With Wednesday's luck, they would finish up with a player with the first touch and strike rate of Booth and the disaffected attitude of Carbone.

Report The Independent

 
 Wilson maintains brave front
by Martin Woods, The Times
 
DANNY WILSON is a fighter. Alas, the Sheffield Wednesday manager portrays all the signs of a punch-drunk one. "I think we were unlucky," he said after a defeat that leaves his side rooted at the bottom of the FA Carling Premiership table. One point from the opening seven games is a harvest some club chairmen would celebrate by giving their manager the dreaded vote of confidence. In Wednesday's case, nobody has any right to be confident.

"We can turn it around without a doubt," Wilson, whose predicament reminds you of the Private Eye cover that showed a deposed Margaret Thatcher talking to two residents of an old people's home, said. "I used to be Prime Minister you know," Mrs Thatcher tells them."Of course you were, dear, of course you were," the ladies reply in unison. Like the fallen premier, the Wednesday manager is engulfed by the delusion that his side are not where they should be, despite all evidence to the contrary.

His Everton counterpart, Walter Smith, who was masterful in disguising his glee at his team's first away win and thus leapfrogging Liverpool in the table, said: "It was a strange one. In the first half there were a few opportunities for either side and it could have been a high-scoring game.

"We took our chances early on and that gave us the upper hand." Those chances came in a four-minute period after the quarter-hour mark. First, a rejuvenated Nick Barmby fired home from inside the penalty area after Kevin Campbell had exposed defensive fallibility. Three minutes later, Jeffers whipped in a low cross from the right wing that the unmarked Gemmill drilled home.

Andy Booth and Gilles de Bilde wasted good chances for Wednesday but by the time the contract rebel, Benito Carbone, came on for the final quarter, Wednesday were relying solely on heart and sinew. "Talent alone will not win you football games. Commitment will," Wilson said, revealing an attitude that undermines his cause and is at the heart of his dispute with the Italian forward. The manager can no longer seek solace by isolating Carbone as the main cause of the dysfunction at the club. The lesser talents in the squad, which he believes is good enough to retrieve the situation, have, for too long now, let him down.

"I won't be walking away from a fight like this. It's a terrific challenge for us now," Wilson said. As Baroness Thatcher found, he may not get the chance to fight.

Report Times Newspapers Ltd

 
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