There can be little doubt that Sheffield Wednesday’s fortunes this year have been sprinkled with a little fairy dust and a sparkle that has shifted them to seventh place in the Championship and within one point of the promotion playoff places. One man leading that charge is Fernando Forestieri.
Argentinian-born Italian national Forestieri has played in Europe since the 2006/07 season when Italian side FC Genoa brought him over to Europe after signing him from Argentianian side Boca Juniors, where he’d been featuring in their second-string team since signing from Newell’s Old Boys U19. After bouncing around on loan in italy, between Genoa, AC Siena and Vincenza and others with a season in Spain with Málaga in between, Forestieri made his English football breakthrough when joining Watford from Udinese on an initial short loan for the opening portion of 2012/13 Championship season. This loan ran its course on January 13, 2013 and Forestieri signed on a free for Watford the next day. A key part of the Watford side that gained promotion, Forestieri scored five goals and laid on four assists in that campaign, the young striker found his options limited during the opening of Watford’s Premier League campaign this season and subsequently he signed for Sheffield Wednesday, who beat off Leeds United interest in locking down his signature.
Signing for Wednesday for a reputed near £3m fee on August 29 this year, Forestieri signed a four-year contract with The Owls and his 10 goals so far this campaign have helped to rocket Wednesday up the Championship table and to the very brink of the playoffs. Whilst he is more than a proficient scorer (10 goals) in a high-scoring Wednesday side (35 goals), there are times when he seemingly coasts and drifts through games. The Sheffield Star quote Wednesday full-back Jack Hunt discussing this aspect of his play with Hunt saying, “Fernando is brilliant and can do things other people can’t. Sometimes he does frustrate you, but you take that all day for what he does and brings to the team. He works so hard and the things he tries are things that only special players like him can pull off. If it doesn’t come off, as long as he is working hard, no-one will ever say anything. In training he’s the exact same and drifts into pockets. He finds gaps that not many other players will find and he is tough to mark and very strong for his size.”
Forestieri feels that his time so far at Wednesday has resulted in what he is calling the best form of his career, the striker paying tribute to Wednesday’s head coach Carlos Carvalhal for this improving aspect of his play. Speaking to The Sheffield Star on this aspect of his play Forestieri said, “I need to carry on like this, which is the best (form) in my life. I thank the team and the gaffer as he has given me a lot of confidence because when I started to play here, I didn’t play well as I didn’t fit good. But he (Carvalhal) and the players gave me confidence to fit in and my performances now are like they are because they helped me a lot.”
Forestieri scored his ninth and tenth goals of the season in yesterday’s 3-0 victory Birmingham in what were two differing quality strikes. The first of Forestieri’s brace was a bundled-in from close range effort in the 36th minute after Wednesday’s Ross Wallace and Jack Hunt had opened up Birmingham’s stubborn defence. The difference from this goal and his second on 48 minutes was like the difference between Tattinger champagne and Lambrini. Forestieri gathered the ball and carried it forwards 40 yards before cutting inside and unleasing a curling right-footed shot that left Birmingham’s Kuszczak’s clutching at thin air.
Forestieri, broken down into the basic numbers from his per typical 90 minute play this season (above graphic), helps to demonstrate just how important Fernando Forestieri’s contribution is to Sheffield Wednesday’s cause. It’s not necessarily the 0.6 goals per 90 minutes (equivalent to a goal per 140 minutes) that is helping the Owls to the fringes of the palyoffs, nor is it his excellent shots-to-goals conversion rate (41.67%) – it’s his all-round game that’s proving important. His near 30 passes (29.6) per 90 minutes are completed at a high accuracy (83.1) and lead to one shooting opportunity per 90 minutes. He also dribbles with the ball well (1.3 successful per 90 minutes), loses the ball infrequently (2.9 times dispossessed) and is also a more than capable player tracking back, making a combined 3.1 tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes.
Suddenly, the near £3m transfer fee for Fernando Forestieri’s signature at Hillborough is looking remarkably good value for money.