Sheffield Wednesday skipper Barry Bannan is using the weight of expectation at the Club to drive him on to achieve promotion with the Owls this season.
Despite slipping out of the top six at the weekend following defeat to fellow Play-Off chasers Wycombe Wanderers, the midfielder insisted he is fully aware of what is at stake for the South Yorkshire side.
“It’s a big pressure every time you put on that blue and white jersey, and I thrive on that,” he asserted. “You need to be made of a certain kind of cloth to play for this Club. The new boys that we signed quickly came to terms with that.
“The expectation from the outside, and the inside as well, is massive from this Club. The fanbase that we’ve got deserve to be in the Championship, but we’re here for a reason and it’s up to us to get us out. We’re not happy where we are – we expect to be doing a bit better.”
The Owls suffered relegation back to Sky Bet League One last season, after finishing rock bottom of the Championship standings, ending their nine-year stay in the second-tier.
And the captain took full responsibility as Wednesday faced the drop – a campaign Bannan and the Owls have now put firmly in the past.
“Me being captain, I take it on my shoulders to try and get the team moving,” he explained. “I feel as if I owe the Club something after last season. When we got relegated last year, it hit me hard.”
“I’ve always had a willingness to win. Since growing up, my mum and dad said I was a nightmare. I used to play football with my brothers, and they used to grab me up because I was that small and move me out of the way, and it used to break my temper.”
Darren Moore’s side kept their Play-Off hopes alive with victory over rivals MK Dons during the Easter weekend.
The Owls edged out the Buckinghamshire team, also among the promotion mix, away from home, when Bannan’s 40-yard lob proved to be the match-winner in a 3-2 triumph for Wednesday.
“It’s one of them things that sits up and nine times out of 10, it probably flies over the bar and into the crowd but luckily enough for me, it went in,” he laughed.
“It was a mix-up between their centre-back and the goalkeeper who was on his way out of his box to pick it up, but the defender headed it, so I went for it. I could see the goalie was a good bit out. Then, I was just focusing on getting my touch right and my connection right.
“I didn’t think at the time it would be the winning goal. We were going quite well at 3-0. The occasion was massive; they were in and around us, and one of our rivals. It was a big, big game. We needed to win it to keep ourselves in the Play-Offs after results the day before went against us.”
That strike was later crowned the Goal of the Season at the EFL Awards 2022 and the 32-year-old, who was in attendance at the ceremony, neglected to bring the correct neckwear, having not been expecting to land the accolade.
“It’s an amazing award to win,” he continued. “Growing up as a young kid, I always wanted to score that goal that everyone remembers.”
⚽️ The Goal of the Season for 2021/22 is @bazzabannan25 for his stunning effort for @swfc against MK Dons. 👏— EFL (@EFL) April 24, 2022
📱 Follow live: https://t.co/UnVTRNt3d6
📺 Watch live on the @SkySports app#EFL | #EFLAwards pic.twitter.com/ffu6HeaNXR
Wednesday, who now sit in seventh, travel to Fleetwood Town in midweek, looking to reclaim their place inside the top six and return to winning ways in Lancashire.
“We had a bad result, but we need to get over that,” Bannan said. “We’ve put the next two games in our hands and then there’s the Play-Off Semi-Finals and we’ll go from there.
“We’ve got a game in hand to get back into the Play-Offs, then a home game on Saturday to consolidate it. It’s a massive game on Tuesday against Fleetwood who are fighting for their lives. It’s a Cup Final.”