Turner relies on youth to restore glory

Second Division: Wednesday embark on another recovery programme
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The Independent Football

Sheffield Wednesday will not wish to be reminded of the lessons of history as they embark on life in the Second Division with a trip to Swindon this afternoon. As their manager, Chris Turner, insists, Wednesday are "a Premiership club in everything bar the team", but their past shows that to be no insurance against years of struggle.

Wednesday have trodden this path before, slipping into the old Third Division in 1975, and much the same things were being said then. In the end, it took five years and a change of manager before Jack Charlton took them back up. And in those days, they had some money to spend.

Turner, by contrast, has only debts, even after a savage round of cost-cutting that has seen 11 players leave Hillsborough. Among those, the likes of Simon Donnelly and Phil O'Donnell had been on salaries negotiated in the Premiership. Other high earners, such as Trond Soltvedt, Danny Maddix and David Burrows, have also moved on. Yet the club still expects to lose money.

Turner has hired Robbie Mustoe, whose authority will serve him well in carrying an essentially young team, but it may be that another extended exile is in prospect.

Similar remarks could apply to Brighton, who relied so often on Bobby Zamora in the past but must now manage without their goalscoring talisman. The manager, Steve Coppell, has high hopes of Leon Knight, the Chelsea striker he has taken on loan, but Brighton have lost two other important players in Paul Brooker, the winger Premiership newcomers Leicester rate highly, and Simon Rodger.

Grimsby have undergone major squad changes and may emerge as promotion dark horses but Bristol City, play-off semi-finalists last season, look a more secure bet. Their manager, Danny Wilson, could not resist Reading's £650,000 bid for top scorer Scott Murray but has invested the money wisely, picking up the Scottish striker Lee Miller from Falkirk for £300,000 and the Australian midfielder Luke Wilkshire, who impressed more than once at Middlesbrough, for a cut-price £250,000.

It may be unwise to discount a continuation of Rushden and Diamonds' upward mobility after taking the Third Division title last season but Hartlepool, who surrendered a big lead to the Northamptonshire side, may struggle despite the return to the North-east of the veteran front man Marco Gabbiadini.

Stockport County, who took their time to get used to Carlton Palmer's managerial style but finished last season strongly, could be contenders this time, especially after Palmer's acquisition of Stuart Barlow from Tranmere and Owen Morrison from Sheffield United.

Queen's Park Rangers, beaten by Cardiff in the play-off final, look good for another tilt despite some deep cuts to their playing staff. But they and others may be surprised by Swindon, who have kept their 26-goal striker Sam Parkin and picked up a couple more useful forwards in Tommy Mooney, formerly with Watford and Birmingham, and the promising Leicester cast-off, Jon Stevenson.

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