The trouble with the Premiership, with all the hype and the foreign stars on fancy wages, is that it has raised everyone's expectations. Once upon a time, a point away from home, no matter how dourly won, would have been seen as a good day's work. Not so now.
For all their stout defending, West Ham were jeered by their own supporters. Harry Redknapp could not fathom it. "I picked an honest team to come away from home and work hard and that's what they did," he said. "I couldn't ask for more than that."
The 4,000 fans who travelled from London clearly had. And what bothered them most was that a point was the height of West Ham's ambitions. Reviving the virtues of playing for a draw, Redknapp left Florin Raducioiu and Stan Lazaridis, two of his celebrated foreign legion, on the bench. Ilie Dumitrescu, rumoured to be leaving Upton Park eight months after his move from Tottenham, did not even make the squad.
But then Redknapp's faith in overseas talent is not what it was. He denies having second thoughts about pinning his hopes to so many foreign flags but, from both his actions and words, it is clear that he is. "With foreign players, it's like one or two English players," he said. "You take a chance. Some come off for you, some don't. Rieper, Bilic, Porfirio, Miklosko, Lazaridis have all been successes. You are always going to get one or two who are not successes."
Which would be fine were it not for the glaring exclusions from the plus column, and their price tags. Raducioiu (pounds 2.4m) and Dumitrescu (pounds 1.6m) are the two costliest purchases in West Ham's history. Disillusionment now shapes Redknapp's judgment of both.
"If he wants to play for West Ham he has got to work hard," he said of Raducioiu, whose has made five starts and scored one goal since his arrival in the summer, the one goal coming against Second Division Stockport in the Coca-Cola Cup last week.
"If he is not going to work hard he is no use to us. He has got to accept the physical side of English football. We'll persevere, while he is with us," he added, darkly. "Hopefully he will adjust in time but he has got to hurry up and do it."
No wonder he was stressing old fashioned English virtues. "I picked the team I wanted to pick," he said. "I brought young Frank Lampard in and he gave me an honest performance."
Honest. It was a word he used a good deal. None the less, the two best players on show were still foreigners: Wednesday's Italian, Benito Carbone, and Dutchman, Orlando Trustfull. Whenever the home side looked like scoring, they were involved in one way or another. Unhappily, this was not very often.
"The truth was that in the last 30 yards we did not show enough quality or subtlety to win the game," David Pleat admitted. Even so, they looked better than West Ham.
Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-1-1): Pressman; Nolan (Oakes, h-t), Atherton, Walker, Briscoe (Nicol, 40); Whittingham, Hyde, Pembridge, Trustfull (Humphreys, 70); Carbone; Booth. Substitutes not used: Stefanovic, Clarke (gk).
West Ham United (3-5-1-1): Miklosko; Rieper, Bilic, Dicks; Breacker, Lampard, Moncur, Bishop, Rowland; Hughes (Lazaridis, 89); Dowie. Substitutes not used: Potts, Raducioiu, Bowen, Sealey (gk).
Referee: P Durkin (Portland).
Man of the match: Carbone.Reuse content