Football: Woeful Wednesday's crisis of confidence

Southampton 2 Kachloul 53, Oakley 84 Sheffield Wednesday 0 Half- time: 0-0 Attendance: 14,815
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The Independent Online
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY'S manager, Danny Wilson, may not yet be feeling the chill wind of managerial change sweeping down from the north, but neither his nor his team's plight was helped yesterday by the pre-match disappearance of the star striker Benito Carbone.

Carbone is already transfer-listed by Wednesday after refusing to sign a new contract, but following this latest example of player pique, it seems unlikely that he will play for the Owls again. He arrived at the ground but refused to play after being named as a substitute. He then reportedly took a taxi to Gat-wick Airport. Sadly for Wednesday, Carbone is the only player to score for them this season.

"I can't believe a player can do this," said Wilson helplessly. "I'm absolutely disgusted with him and so are his team-mates. He just refused to play." Wilson also complained that Carbone's impromptu strike action had wrecked his game plan. "Substitutes are a really important part of the game now," he said. "We wanted to soak up first-half pressure, then bring him on to create openings."

Images of sinking ships spring to mind but Wilson might take heart from Dave Jones, the manager of Southampton, who made an even worse start to last season - only two points from nine games - but still managed Premiership survival.

"We have a fighting chance now, rather than chasing," said Jones. "I'm good friends with Danny but all that ends as soon as the whistle blows. It's a dog-eat-dog game but they've got a lot of pride and they just need a break."

Wednesday certainly need an injection of confidence too. They were still only one goal down with 10 minutes to go when Petter Rudi had a priceless chance to salvage a point and draw Southampton's sting against the run of play. Rudi found himself in space in front of goal just eight yards out but chose to pass to the heavily-marked Richard Cresswell rather than shoot. A more confident player would have belted it home first time.

By contrast, Southampton looked to be brimming with the stuff with three wins from five games. After a lacklustre first half, where they clearly missed the midfield invention of Matt Le Tissier, they raised their game to take the lead within 10 minutes of the restart.

Hassan Kachloul, who along with Stuart Ripley caused trouble on the flanks, latched on to a through ball from Trond Soltvedt and curled it sweetly inside the near post.

It took the Saints another half-hour to seal the game but the fight was visibly draining out of Wednesday, and Matthew Oakley's free-kick, after the new signing Luis Boa Morte had been pulled down, was enough to take all three points.

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