The new philosophy will probably take a while to bear fruit but the former Borussia Dortmund assistant comes into the job well-informed and a fortnight break, which included a five-day warm-weather training camp, is an ideal way to get the basics across. Everyone has been given a clean slate and the Owls could be caught cold if those selected turn up energised and inspired.
Only Emyr Huws and Jason Davidson have been away on international duty, so a 26-man squad jetted out to Marbella last week with their new manager already clued-up on the individual strengths and weaknesses of the majority, having studied several videos prior to his appointment.
Indeed, Wagner insists his decision to take the job was influenced by his findings during this period of due diligence. The work rate of the players and their desire to co-operate with a game plan were both cited as solid foundations that should enable the 44-year-old to apply his vision. The impression is that he wants to hit the ground running and see instant results.
Wednesday have been in fine form since the September international break, picking up 19 points from the last 11 league outings, but they threw in a stinker at Charlton last time out and will be without Sam Hutchinson and Barry Bannan for this game, so the natural balance of the team could be affected.
Dropping down into League One, Colchester might also be worth a punt at a similar price for the short trip to Millwall with Tony Humes hinting that a change of formation might be on the cards after recent limp defeats on the road. If they can get their shape right, they certainly have the attacking options to cause the Lions serious problems on the counter.
And that’s essentially why the price is so big. If you can look beyond the horror of their recent goals against record, you will appreciate that clean sheets aren’t essential for the U’s to win matches. If they only find some semblance of rearguard unity, it’s well within their capabilities to go any ground in this division and score two or three times.
There was a concerted effort from Humes to correct basic errors the week before last and that work might not have been a complete waste of time, even though Colchester shipped three at home in their next outing against Coventry. The Sky Blues are probably the best attacking team in the division, though, so it wasn’t necessarily a fixture on which the alterations should be judged.
After a shaky start, Millwall have turned their season around, particularly at home where they’ve won six of the last eight in all competitions. However, they haven’t been up against much of an attacking threat in those matches and this could be a throwback to their August days when Barnet, Coventry, Barnsley and Chesterfield plundered 11 goals between them.
Neil Harris increased the dimensions of the New Den pitch in the summer but the Coventry defeat, in particular, was a fine demonstration of how talented players like Callum Harriott, Gavin Massey and Marvin Sordell can have a field day working in the space between the lines. With Millwall skipper Tony Craig now ruled out for the season, the new central defensive partnership will need to develop an understanding quickly.
Finally, back Walsall to make their quality count against a far-from-convincing Sheffield United side. The Saddlers are head and shoulders above the Blades in terms of both results and performances. They currently sit seven points better off with a superior goal difference by ten, despite having played a game fewer, while their 62.3 per cent shot ratio blows United’s paltry 51.6 per cent figure out of the water.
So it’s a mystery why Dean Smith’s men should be trading at 6/4 here, the implication being that the Yorkshire club would be favourites on neutral territory. Frankly, the price is an insult. According to my 16-match ratings, Walsall should be 1.87 favourites. They’ve already beaten the rest of the top four at home and the Blades are winless in five visits to the Bescot since dropping down to this level in 2011, losing three.
For more information about Mike Holden’s shot-based ratings system, follow this link.
Recommended Bets: 1pt Huddersfield to beat Sheff Wed at 17/4 1pt Colchester to beat Millwall at 15/4 2pt Walsall to beat Sheffield United at 6/4