Garry Monk is coming in for a lot of stick right now, and in some ways, it’s easy to blame him for our current run of results and lack of good performances. However, many of his critics are, in my opinion, ignoring the bigger picture. I’d go as far as saying it’s a common occurrence in modern-day football.
Wednesday started the season with Lee Bullen in caretaker charge after Steve Bruce, and his staff, jumped ship. I’ll never agree with how Bruce went about engineering a move out of Sheffield Wednesday, but there were murmurings of broken promises, and let’s face it, there’s a chance said rumours might be right.
I’ve always believed the move for Garry Monk came on quick, and when he arrived, he did so alone. That’s no slight on the staff who were and are at the club, but we had to reshuffle and reorganise in a way, to put a coaching team around Monk. We did this, rather than allow Monk to bring in his own men. Even Jos Luhukay was allowed to bring an assistant, as well as an opposition scout.
It all appeared to be thrown together on the fly, which is typical of Wednesday at times. Carlos Carvalhal brought with him three members of staff, and when one left, a replacement arrived, and an additional analyst joined along the way, as well as the medical staff. Steve Bruce had Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence by his side and brought in the likes of David Downes and Dean Hughes to aid recruitment and analysis.
I know Ryan Needs joined us from Birmingham City, but have we given the manager the tools to do the job to the best of his ability? James Beattie, for example, was linked with a switch to Wednesday, and by all accounts, he is or was working from home. Could we not have got a deal over the line for him?
By the time Monk arrived at the club, the transfer window had closed, giving him no time to make changes, but the opportunity to assess what’s what. We did okay up until the Stoke game, but I think you learn more about people during the tough times, and after the defeat at Wigan Monk expressed his honest opinions on the players at his disposal.
When Monk made his comments post Wigan, he was praised by many for being honest and calling it as it is. However, Wednesday’s bad form has continued, with two draws and two losses following. Lately, Monk has been without Morgan Fox and Steven Fletcher, potentially our two better and most consistent performers this season, with the latter being the only one who seems capable of scoring regularly.
We added to the squad in January, with Alessio da Cruz arriving first, before Josh Windass and Connor Wickham followed. I’m in no way writing these three lads off, but in terms of changing the squad we only managed to offload Ash Baker and Jordan Thorniley, so if anything, the mentality and culture within remain the same.
As everyone knows, we have two players, Keiren Westwood and Sam Hutchinson, as well as David Bates, who are said not to be with the first-team group anymore. The absence of Westwood and Hutchinson caused further problems the first time this situation occurred under Jos Luhukay, and it continues to do so now. Did we attempt to move either on during the window? Was it possible? Could we have terminated the loan deal of David Bates?
There’s undoubtedly a lack of quality within the squad at Wednesday, so, when players are missing, it shows. There’s also a lack of confidence and belief too, and there should be more drive and desire as well. Could another manager do better with this group? We were third heading into the Stoke game before the wheels fell off, and while many suggest Steve Bruce or someone else could work wonders, it may not be the case.
Bruce got Hull promoted via the playoffs, yes, but many would suggest with the squad he had they underachieved. You could also say Aston Villa underachieved under Bruce’s management, and his time there ended on bad terms. I know Bruce and other managers are more charismatic, more media-friendly and can engineer a better relationship with supporters, but it doesn’t mean they’d do a better job here. And, could Bruce, or someone else, do so without their own staff?
The club has been plagued by off the field issues, and while a couple may not necessarily affect the playing side of the club, many of those here have seen transfer embargoes, problems with the EFL, fans being allowed to return season tickets, and there were also rumours of the wages not being paid in full at one time as well. Consistent failings off the field, and at the rate they seem to occur at Wednesday, undoubtedly do damage.
A lot of the clubs off the field problems arise because the club isn’t run as well as it should be. It lacks structure and direction. It doesn’t do the basics in many instances, and while I appreciate the owner cannot be here all the time, when he is, does he lead the club? Can the manager, players and supporters look to him to guide us in the right direction?
If you’re playing at a club where everything seems to happen on the fly, with no direction and a sliding of standards, the mentality will transfer to the playing side. What can the manager do about this? A lot of the last few things I’ve mentioned are out of his control, and in a way, he’s working with one arm tied behind his back. No direction, drive, realism, and at times, professionalism, off the pitch, means the same can occur on it as well.
Finally, the pricing structure is all wrong at Wednesday, as everyone knows. You cannot suggest to supporters that they will pay top whack for continued investment, and then expect the manager to pull up any trees with the squad he currently has at his disposal. It’s a high-end price for a luxury product that in reality, is very much substandard. It creates unrealistic expectations, and therefore, puts pressure on the manager to deliver what, in my opinion, would be a fluke if we went up with this current group of players, under these conditions.