Joost van Aken proves you can’t write any Sheffield Wednesday player off
Sometimes, you just need some space.
This is something that lockdown has proven. You can love someone as much as you can possibly love someone but if you are constantly stepping on each other’s toes and in each other’s face, that love can soon lead to antagonism and hate.
Then just a few days or even sometimes a few hours away from each other can really make you realise how petty those disagreements were and how much you actually love that person. There’s a reason distance makes the heart grow fonder is a popular saying.
This is the case with football as well though we often forget it. When a senior player is shipped out on loan, we kind of write it off and believe that player is done. He’s not wanted by the management, they couldn’t even sell him so we’re getting him off the books until we can release him at the end of the contract. When they return, we often either forget they exist or just wait for them to leave again.
That was certainly the case with Joost van Aken. It is forgotten that for a while, he was making himself into a bit of a cult hero after making the move to Sheffield Wednesday from Dutch side Heerenveen. But then he had a disastrous game in the Steel City derby defeat to Sheffield United.
If you are a hero in that match, you can get away with anything. Lloyd Owusu could have kicked a baby before every match during his years at Hillsborough and been forgiven because his first-ever touch for the club was a goal against United. But the reverse is also true. Van Aken could gone to the future, told us about Covid-19, and have the vaccine ready for it but he’d be shunned because Leon Clarke made him look like a fool.
When he went out on loan to VfL Onsabruck last season, he was forgotten about. Unlike Matt Penney who also spent the season in the second tier of German football, there were no updates in the fan groups. No one cared what he was doing, he was forgotten about as a player.
When he returned, no one thought Van Aken was going to be a part of things. Even if you remembered he was still contracted to the Owls, you just assumed he would be gone eventually.
But Van Aken benefitted from the change in management and the change in formation. Sheffield Wednesday now play a 3-5-2 and one of the issues the Owls had with that formation was that they often didn’t have three fit central defenders for it. This meant the likes of Liam Palmer and Moses Odubajo would end up in central defence and that went as well as you would expect.
With Wednesday’s recruitment of central defenders before the season had started being limited to Chey Dunkley, a player who would not be fit enough to play, Van Aken was suddenly necessary. Instead of being sold, he was a key player.
And you can’t say that Van Aken hasn’t taken the opportunity with both hands. Since the start of the season, he has been great and that was capped off with a great performance against Birmingham City on Saturday. The clip every Wednesday fan was watching was not Barry Bannan’s winning penalty but an amazing block from Van Aken which was just as important.
Twitter: Let’s have an appreciation tweet for Joost van Aken.
#swfc https://t.co/yofF0ybIfs (@swfc)
With all the praise Van Aken has been getting over this block, it’s like being back at the start of his Wednesday career when the fans thought they had a real star on their hands.
Of course Van Aken will need to keep this up especially with competition in the defence set to become more fierce. Dominic Iorfa, Tom Lees and Dunkley will get fit again soon. Julian Borner will surely improve from his poor form in the early season and Aden Flint is a star signing. But we are seeing some very good signs from him.
What this proves though is you can’t write any player off. One of the quieter stories from the match was an impressive performance from Moses Odubajo, a player most fans would have driven to whatever club would have him, even if that club was on the opposite side of the world.
And sometimes that loan away can be a very good thing. Van Aken was struggling at Wednesday and that match against Sheffield United will have stayed in his mind. That break away from the club for him to move on from that performance mentally and for the fans to almost treat him like a new signing when he returned was the best thing for both parties.
Now, who else could do with a break away from Hillsborough…