LIKE a faulty radio, Sheffield Wednesday sometimes seem to be tuned to two different wavelengths.
They were in that mode on Saturday, with the rest of their side plodding around diligently while their two Italians played a game of their own.
Benito Carbone and Paolo Di Canio were by turns fascinating and frustrating, setting up any number of possibilities but apparently on the way to vanishing up their own intricacies before they fashioned the winning goal with 11 minutes left.
The uneasy alliance between the functional and the fanciful has been enough to steer Wednesday clear of relegation, this victory surely making it inconceivable that they could now be dragged into the bottom three. But the question of how they want to play the game remains unresolved; there was too much mutual incomprehension at Hillsborough to suggest an untroubled future.
The age-old tension between artist and artisan was also in evidence for Southampton, when, of all the available candidates, it was Matthew Le Tissier who was replaced by Kevin Davies early in the second half.
Davies, one of the striking successes of the first half of the season, was being eased back after a two month lay-off and it was inevitable that someone would make way for him at some stage.
As David Jones remarked, it could have been any one of 10 outfield players. The fact that it was Le Tissier, the one Saint who might have miraculously transformed an insipid performance, seemed a harsh judgement - especially after he had forced Kevin Pressman into his one serious save of the match with an agile volley.
There was a woeful lack of urgency in Southampton's whole approach, with Le Tissier no more at fault than any of his team-mates.
Perhaps the most illuminating contrast was in the way Carbone, supposedly one of Wednesday's luxury players, went about his job. Apart from scoring the goal and lobbing any amount of dangerous ammunition into the penalty area, he also got through a surprising amount of chasing and harrying on the right flank, winning several important balls, including a couple he had previously given away.
In him, at least, style and effectiveness occasionally spoke the same language.
Goal: Carbone (79) 1-0.
Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Barrett, Sedloski, Walker, Hinchcliffe; Carbone, Atherton, Stefanovic, Pembridge (Whittingham, 70); Booth, Di Canio. Substitutes not used: Hyde, Thome, Magilton, Clarke (gk).
Southampton (4-4-2): Jones; Dodd, Lundekvam, Dryden, Benali; Hughes, Richardson (Williams, 84), Le Tissier (Davies, 57), Beresford; Ostenstad, Hirst. Substitutes not used: Monkou, Gibbens, Moss (gk).
Referee: P.Jones (Leicester).
Bookings: Wednesday: Stefanovic. Southampton: Lundekvam.
Man of the match: Carbone.
Attendance: 29,677.Reuse content