Sheffield Wednesday signing free agent was a bigger coup than Michael Smith

Many players in Sheffield Wednesday’s starting lineup right now have been there and done that with the Owls; these are veterans who have spent a significant amount of their careers in South Yorkshire.

The first name that comes to mind is Liam Palmer; the right-back has made 426 appearances for Wednesday since breaking out of the junior system in 2010.

With an astounding 243 combined appearances for the Owls, Josh Windass and Marvin Johnson could also be considered long-term members of Danny Rohl’s current first team, but one midfield player stands in for the club’s beating heart by persevering through good times and bad.

Barry Bannan arrived at Hillsborough on a free transfer in 2015, and nine years later, he has done more than enough to establish himself as a club legend, making the free transfer acquisition appear like a great deal.

Barry Bannan’s time at Sheffield Wednesday

When Wednesday first joined Crystal Palace in 2013, he was acquired for €2.1 million (£1.79 million). As a result of Barry Bannan’s failure at Selhurst Park, Wednesday gained access to the team for free.

During his unforgettable one-season stint in London, the Scottish creator would only manage to record one goal and four assists while playing for the Eagles; his best work was done when he moved all the way up to South Yorkshire on a free agent.

Even though he is now 34 years old, Bannan has managed to achieve double figures in assists in three of his impressive nine seasons in Wednesday blue and white. Last season, he recorded 11 assists to help his team win the League One playoffs.

This is the reason Rohl is rushing to extend his captain’s contract right now, and it’s also the reason that former Hillsborough manager Darren Moore continuously showered Bannan with compliments while he was in charge, calling the former Aston Villa midfielder a “intelligent” and “vital” presence on the path to securing promotion the previous season.

With Bannan remaining in the first team picture and Smith now confined to a bit-part role, the signing of Bannan could be seen in retrospect as more of a coup than the 2022 deal to sign former Rotherham United striker Michael Smith.

Michael Smith’s record for Wednesday

The 32-year-old striker, who turned down the opportunity to play in the Championship for the Millers in order to join Wednesday, was once thought to be a significant statement acquisition for the Owls. However, after scoring just three goals in 20 league games in 2023–2024, Smith is no longer as crucial to the team’s cause.



Though Smith was linked to a move to Derby County during the January transfer window, Rohl and Co. may be frustrated that they were unable to remove Smith off the roster due to his high salary in the end, with the Rams unwilling to pay Smith any portion of his £17.5k weekly salary.

Smith is currently struggling to make an impression when given the chance to play, and his decline in the hierarchy has coincided with new Owls recruit Ike Ugbo discovering his shooting form. Ugbo, a loanee from Troy, has scored five goals in his previous four league appearances.
However, Bannan has made appearances for Rohl’s relegation-threatened team this season, despite not being as productive as he has been in previous campaigns.

Against the now-managerless Lions in midweek, the Scotsman recorded his second assist of the season by playing a defence-splitting through ball that allowed Anthony Musaba to score for 2-0.

Bannan won’t want to just hang up his boots even as he does reach the twilight of his career, and if Rohl can tie the dynamic midfielder to a contract extension soon, he should remain an important cog in the Owls machine for some time yet.

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