A win at last, and three goals to go with it! I had forgotten what it felt like to celebrate a goal, let alone reflect on a game of football I actually enjoyed. Johnnie, in typical fashion, drove us on to our first victory in 13 games, and kept us to within touching distance of our relegation rivals. The relief around the Valley at full time was tangible. How nice it was to see the tunnel jump once again, even if our talismanic skipper would only treat us to one.
Whether we want to accept it or not, Duchatelet's latest
flunky Interim Head Coach, Karel Fraeye must take some credit for setting the team out in an interesting 4-1-3-2 system that either took Wednesday by surprise or...let's give him some credit here...outwitted the inform Sheffield side. In reality, perhaps Wednesday were so certain of victory they slipped on the banana skin and never quite got going.
The bittersweet feeling post match was that this win could hand Fraeye the job full time. Nothing personal, Karel, but I hope this was your last match in charge.
Diarra sat in front of the centre backs offering the sort of reassurance that resonated into the 3 home stands at the Valley, and a sense of calmness and control prevailed for once. Gudmundsson was busy, and Ba made us forget Cousins was absent. Up top Ghoochannejhad looked like a man who had something to prove.
And then, after 25 mins, a goal. Yes, a GOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!! Jackson. Who else, to put us in front? A powerful header as he drove unmarked into the box from a corner.
To our disbelief and delight, Makienok scored again just before half time after some neat work from Ghoochannejhad and the team left the pitch to a standing ovation. The fans recognising the effort that had been woefully lacking in recent games.
Smiles returned, but for how long?
Our third goal arrived after 55 minutes from our re-born Iranian striker following some unselfish play from the much-maligned Morgan Fox. A consolation goal failed to lift the visitors, and victory was ours.
Before the match there was the important matter of a fan protest to attend! Many questioned whether it will make any difference to the bloody-minded arrogance of Duchatelet and the hapless Meire, but I would like to think they will be a little surprised, if not unnerved by the size of the crowd that formed behind the West Stand (hard to gauge whilst amongst it, but I'm guessing at 350-400). At one stage Meire appeared as a lonely figure at a window, blatantly taking a series of images on her phone while appearing to smirk and snigger at the baying crowd. Make no mistake, her contempt shone through above any signs of empathetic concern. One could only hope she was sending those images back to Mr. Duchatelet, although she might try to pass them off as queuing folk at the turnstiles and Rolly might well be detached enough to believe her!
Thankfully the demonstration remained peaceful, which is hugely important if we are to deny Meire the chance to dismiss matters as being driven by mindless yobs, but what impressed me the most was the demographic. I fully expected to see a younger crowd that you might associate with today's social media, but there were young and old gathered together for one common cause. Word has spread far and wide, and Meire should take note. Next up is the 'Black and White' day on the 28th when the protests will gain a wider audience in front of the Sky cameras.
But whilst we should undoubtedly enjoy it, we should remember that today's long-awaited victory changes nothing. Let's not let the euphoria of today's rare win mask the deep-routed problems caused by Duchatelet and Meire's repeated bad decisions. Duchatelet should use this forthcoming international break to appoint a manager or head coach with the correct credentials to do the job in this difficult and unpredictable division, and Meire should go off and find a job better suited to whatever talents she may very well have, because running a football club is not amongst them.