This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Sheffield Wednesday return to league action this weekend, but manager Garry Monk may be wishing he could call on the services on one former Owls player.
The south Yorkshire side face a trip to the west Midlands to face the Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Saturday, and they do so knowing that Slaven Bilic will be without both Romaine Sawyers and captain Jake Livermore – a boost perhaps.
However, Wednesday need to improve on their last few outings as they have too often let points slip from their grasp as game management has become somewhat the main issue.
Annoyingly for Monk, he can’t make any significant squad changes until January, which may have him rueing a decision made back in August.
After playing and scoring against Reading, Lucas Joao soon swapped Hillsborough for the Madejski Stadium as the club sold him for £5m just days after their Championship-opening duel.
In hindsight, he probably would have been an absolutely ideal fit in the 40-year-old’s system this campaign…
Goalscoring and chance creation are probably the two big problems facing this Wednesday squad at the minute – they have bagged just 14 goals in ten league games, with four coming in one match alone.
Top scorer Steven Fletcher is facing a barren run of six games without a goal too.
Joao would have been the perfect player to either lead the line on his own or play alongside a partner – in the 2018/19 campaign, the 26-year-old averaged 2.19 shots, 2.86 dribbles, and 2.75 touches inside the opposition box per 90 minutes, via the PFSA.
Clearly, he was a threat last season, having also bagged ten times.
No player this season has managed more successful dribbles while only Fletcher betters the shots per 90 number, per WhoScored.
Reading’s chief executive described him well upon signing him earlier in the year, he said: “He is incredibly strong on the ball, a threat in the air, has pace and power in abundance, and he’s an instinctive finisher.”
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It is this sort of presence that would thrive in Monk’s system regardless of what formation it is. He can be played to feet or in the air, so both crosses from the wing and holding the ball up are just two options from his playbook.
The fact he is a handful is shown by how many times he was fouled last season (1.53 times per 90), which no player in the squad with two starts or more can match.
If only Wednesday could still call on the exploits of the 6 foot 4 forward, he’d have certainly lessened the increasing striking crisis under Monk.