When news broke of Garry Monk and his staff’s departures from Sheffield Wednesday, I must say I was caught off guard. It’s not a decision I expected at this point, regardless of our position in the division and our lack of goals from open play. But, the chairman has rolled the dice, and I wanted to give my thoughts on the decision.
When Garry arrived, I don’t believe he was our first choice to replace Steve Bruce in the hot seat. The move to appoint Monk appeared to come on very quickly and be sorted in possibly a day or so. I think this perhaps, when you consider supporters were keen on Danny Cowley for example, left many underwhelmed. And, I think it’s fair to say some weren’t keen on Garry from the off before he had taken charge of a game.
I think with any appointment, you will always have some who are enthused by who is taking the job, and others who aren’t. It’s life. When Carlos was head coach, he brought an energy, enthusiasm, passion, emotions and was animated on the touchline. Wednesday fans bought into this, and I think many supporters demand these qualities are on show with those in the dugout, as a result of how Carlos was.
Fans didn’t take to Jos from the off. Because of his apparent lack of passion and oomph on the touchline. I will add assistant manager, Remy, caused a lot of issues under Jos. And, he was the one against directing the team in the technical area in the main. Anyway, when Steve Bruce took over, he brought similar qualities to Carlos in the sense he’s media savvy, engaging and active on the touchline. I’m not sure if all he hand gesturing and so on makes an individual a better coach, but I do think Garry’s personality didn’t get the fans onside.
When Garry arrived at Wednesday, the club was in disarray, in my opinion. Steve had jumped ship, things were all over the place, there was dithering from above, and I believe we had been under an embargo in the summer. Garry took the job, without his staff and the ability to add players. He got off to a decent start and by December were third. Sometimes you see it when new managers come in, players want to impress, but then the problems of old begin to creep in.
We saw leads surrendered and the lack of strength in character and mind returned, while focus and commitment slipped, resulting in form suffering. Steven Fletcher’s injury was also significant, and I’ll come on to this shortly. Regardless of the goings-on, results should have been better, and so should performances. Should the gaffer take some responsibility for this run? Of course. And, he’s the focal point, so he will take the majority, whether that’s fair or not.
I saw Garry’s first season with us as an opportunity for him to assess what he was allowed to evaluate, and then to communicate bits and pieces to the fanbase, while attempting to make the necessary changes to bring a stronger foundation and then brighter days to the club in the future. While we all knew it, he called out the issues with the mentality and so on. He put players out of the picture who he felt didn’t have what was needed. And, while some didn’t like a couple of decisions, he had the balls to do it.
You will always get the suggestion that a manager moves players away from the group because he can’t handle big names, egos and so on. I think it can be a fair call, but when a couple of gaffers do the same after a decent amount of time in the job, I think the reality is clear. And, when people mention well so and so played under Steve Bruce. Again, a fair call, but he was at the club how long? Did the “honeymoon period” have a chance to end?
I feel as though Garry was making the decisions which were for the club, rather than himself. Football is all short-term these days. Managers know this. So, would he have made his job more challenging in terms of perhaps using less experienced or players with potentially less ability, if he didn’t believe it was right for the club and the group?
I speak to the odd person now and again at Wednesday, and the message I was getting is that Garry deserved the opportunity to take the team on this season. He’d ridden the storm, so to speak, made it to the summer, and now more work could get underway. And, of course, more changes in terms of playing and coaching staff, and processes behind the scenes.
I understand Garry was on board and enthusiastic about a change in how we recruit. There was a desire to do so smarter and to be more efficient and targeted in our approach. Some may suggest our recruitment wasn’t grand in the window, but it’s worth remembering our position as a club. We were cutting costs and had a points deduction as well. It’s a formality that there are issues in this specific area, there always are, and I think it’s sadly the norm nowadays and something the next man in the hot seat must contend with in January and beyond.
The content the club serves up via social media platforms and YouTube improved dramatically, and it was Garry who was behind prompting this to happen. He felt there was a need to attempt to build a connection between everyone again. And, like it or not, it was a move which is positive and should have happened a long time ago. When the going was good, everyone embraced the content and showered the club with praise, after all.
Garry’s coaching team arrived during the close season, and it felt like a new start. We saw at the beginning of the campaign the togetherness they were trying to deliver. The mood looked buoyant, and the group close-knit. In games, we would hear Andy Hughes bellowing instructions and so on, we’d see the huddles, and people started to buy into what was happening.
I mentioned above how when Steven Fletcher picked up his injury last season, the form slid. And, with the likes of Dominic Iorfa, Massimo Luongo and Izzy Brown out, it’s happened again in many respects. When things go against us, and it’s not just under Garry, this has been the case, we struggle. It’s part of the mentality he spoke about previously, and I don’t believe it’s something which is changeable overnight or that it’s a quick fix which is then sustainable long term.
A lot is said about the style of football we played under Garry’s lead, but I think there are points to make here. I remember earlier in the season we were using a high press in games, with the trigger often a shout from Andy Hughes. We chased things, and the levels were being hit. When key men were out injured, it’s not that players don’t want to get to the standards set, but fragility can bring about lethargy, a lack of oomph, and so on. Individual mistakes crept in again, we lost focus, and a lot is down to confidence.
I, like everyone else, have watched games this season where I’ve asked myself what the plan is? What’s going on? Some of the football has been terrible. I watch and think this player had to move quicker there or that player needs to switch on. A lot coincided with the appalling run of form and our better players being unavailable. I don’t think Garry will have been happy with what he was seeing. Could he have affected proceedings more? Potentially. Does the squad have the quality behind the first XI?
The changes needed and the job at Wednesday, as I’ve said before, is not an overnight fix, and everything is sorted. It’s not a bring a new coaching team, and we will be sound for the long term. I say this as new gaffers can have a positive impact. James Beattie, Darryl Flahavan and Andy Hughes were at the club several days short of three months. Twelve weeks. Is that long enough to drive change, to see processes through and for the hard work to convert?
I wish those leaving the club the best for the future. And, I would understand their frustrations that the project was in its early stages. I’m not a fan of how people turn things personal in football in terms of the manager. People are celebrating someone losing their job, going as far as dishing out abuse and so on. Regardless of what has happened in terms of results. Or decisions a manager has made. Consider the situation at the club. Think about the conditions and restraints. Remember they’re human beings and these guys worked hard behind the scenes.