Laws looking for top 10 finish

SHEFFIELD Wednesday, like the travelling U's, are gunning for a top-10 place at the end of this season.While United have been installed in the top 10 of the Championship for the last three months, Wednesday have been stuck in the lower half of the table for most of this campaign.

By Carl Marston

SHEFFIELD Wednesday, like the travelling U's, are gunning for a top-10 place at the end of this season.

While United have been installed in the top 10 of the Championship for the last three months, Wednesday have been stuck in the lower half of the table for most of this campaign.

In fact, they actually hit rock bottom when sitting on the basement at the end of September, under previous manager Paul Sturrock. A 4-0 defeat at Layer Road on October 18, proved the final straw for Sturrock, who left Hillsborough the following day.

Ironically Sturrock, who had guided Wednesday to promotion via the League One play-offs in 2004-05, had only agreed to a new four-year deal just five weeks before his departure.

New boss Brian Laws has gradually nursed the Owls out of danger and into mid-table. They were even contemplating a late dash for the play-offs during the second half of the season, rising to the heady heights of ninth in the table following a 3-0 success at Yorkshire rivals Barnsley on December 30.

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These ambitious plans were dashed by a subsequent run of no wins in nine games. Now, the revised target is the top 10.

“The belief is coming back and our target now is to finish in the top 10,” confirmed Laws.

“It would be a great achievement for the football club. It would be satisfactory because it would be the best position Sheffield Wednesday have finished in for the last seven years.”

It was certainly a gamble for Laws to leave a cosy job at over-achievers Scunthorpe United last October. Iron were in the thick of the League One promotion race when he left Glanford Park, a position they have since consolidated - they are currently six points clear at the top of the table.

Laws had guided Scunthorpe into League One in 2004-05, and had spent 10 years in the hot-seat there. But he is now relishing the challenge of being the man to bring success back to Sheffield Wednesday - he is their ninth manager in the last 10 years.

The Owls certainly have a distinguished history. They were in the Premiership from its inception in 1992 until relegation in 2000, and have won the old Division One title on four occasions (the last time was 1929-30) and the FA Cup three times.

Previous managers have included such big names as Jackie Charlton, Howard Wilkinson, Ron Atkinson (twice) and Trevor Francis.

Back to the present and goal-scoring has not been a problem for the Owls. Only West Brom, Southampton, Sunderland and Colchester have scored more goals in the Championship, although no club outside the bottom five has conceded more! Striker Steven MacLean, formerly of Rangers, and winger Chris Brunt have both bagged 10 goals, while danger-man Marcus Tudgay has nine and front-runner Deon Burton eight.

They are unbeaten in their last four games, following 3-2 wins over Southend and Leeds, and 1-1 draws against Plymouth and at home to QPR.

Former MK Dons winger Wade Small (cartilage injury), Jermaine Johnson (knee problem) and ex-Newcastle favourite Steve Watson (sore calf) will all miss out, although defender Graham Coughlan returns to the squad.

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