Sheffield Wed

Good times ahead but word of warning for Jones


Milan Mandaric sacked Gary Megson before it was too late.
Picture by Martyn Spencer: Flickr

IF anyone was in any doubt about Milan Mandaric’s intentions to turn Sheffield Wednesday into a dominant force, one only has to look at this season’s relentless pursuit of second place rivals Sheffield United to understand the Serb means business.

He was unforgiving in the way he sharpened the axe when Gary Megson appeared to be faltering in the race for automatic promotion. Not content with sticking by his manager who was only five points behind with a third of the season still to go, Mandaric wasted no time in sending him packing.

His shrewd appointment of Dave Jones, a complete opposite of his predecessor in footballing philosophies, shows that he is far more than just a rich businessman – he knows his football!

The fact that he sanctioned the signing of 19 players this season shows he is far from shy when it comes to backing the manager in the transfer market.

And with the Owls now just only one division away from the Promised Land, you can expect that support to remain unrelenting. Wednesday will spend big ahead of next season, rest assured. The chairman will also allow for a hefty wage budget to attract the necessary quality.

Mandaric was not lying when he said he did not want to hang around in his bid for a Premiership return. And while most League One clubs will be expected to consolidate their position in the Championship, the Owls’ chief will want a top ten place.

Plans for a new training ground show his vision for the club extends to beyond the perimeter of the first team playing squad. The Owls have been languishing for the past few seasons and flirting with the very real threat of extinction. But this aggressive, forward-thinking approach could be just what Wednesday needed.

Indeed, those fans who jammed the Radio Sheffield switchboard, forcing the station to stay on air beyond its normal sport slot to deal with the sheer volume of calls, will be wishing they held off dialling having seen how the season panned out.

But a word of warning to manager Jones.

While it seems exciting times are just around the corner for Owls fans, make sure you spend your new transfer kitty wisely. If you don’t, Mandaric will waste no time in showing you the door.

Just ask Megson.

Why Mandaric has saved Wednesday's season


Whatever happens between now and May, one thing is for certain - Milan Mandaric has saved Sheffield Wednesday’s season.

Radio station phone lines were jammed with angry Owls fans the day chairman Mandaric pulled the plug on Gary Megson’s tenure. Two wins from the ten games prior to the Steel City derby success was the reason Megson bit the bullet, but the timing, just days after that 1-0 victory, shocked those of a blue and white persuasion.

It was a brave decision to sack a manager in third place whose heart belongs at Hillsborough, but Mandaric saw the iceberg.
That derby victory only served to disguise the demise and had that fixture against United not been on the horizon, Megson would have gone after the Chesterfield loss.

You could argue the decision to keep him in the dugout until after that game actually played a major part in securing the bragging rights for this year.

But it was his next decision that, for me, gave the Owls’ season the kiss of life. The appointment of Dave Jones to replace Megson has been inspired on two counts.

Firstly, the more controlled attacking game that has very much been Jones’s signature dish throughout his management career has ensured the race for automatic promotion with neighbours United will go down to the wire.

Under Megson’s style of play, the Blades would have been home and dry now in second spot, with Wednesday having dropped far too many points. They may still have been third under the ‘Ginger Mourinho’, but the gap to their arch rivals would have been wider than the river Don.

Secondly, if the Owls have to settle for the play-offs, who will bet against Wednesday with their new approach to matches?

The majority of the teams that win promotion through the back door play good, attacking football. One-off cup finals are normally won by the team that can create the better chances, have a match-winner and, more importantly, look after the ball better.

While Megson’s style, ala Kevin Blackwell at S2 during his time, is consistent enough over 46 games to earn the necessary points, in a one-off cup final it is, more often than not, the side that plays football that prevails.

Suspecting the Owls may not be able to clinch second spot under Megson, Mandaric brought in someone who could play the right way to win through the play-offs.

Would anyone be confident of the Owls being victorious under Megson against the likes of MK Dons and Huddersfield? I wouldn’t.

So if Wednesday are successful in their bid for a place in next season’s Championship, while Jones will take the plaudits for his impressive run of results, it is the man who appointed him who will have played the biggest part in securing promotion.

1 comment:

  1. Good point well made. Although I never welcomed Megson as Wednesday boss, I felt his sacking was hasty and harsh. Happily, time and results have proved me wrong. Wednesday were undoubtedly on a downward spiral and credit for Mandaric for recognising and reacting to that quickly.