The managerial situation at Sheffield Wednesday, at the time of writing, remains unclear. And, knowing my luck, I’ll upload this article then an announcement will swiftly follow. As usual, it’s been a period of multiple bookies favourites and a raft of names getting a mention in the press and across social media.
I think many Wednesday fans, from what I see on Twitter, would like the club to appoint Paul Cook as our new manager. He’s been the man getting the most mentions regarding who supporters think is Tony Pulis’ ideal replacement. Cook’s latest comments in the media suggest talks between himself and the club stalled, and I get the impression that if we hire anyone but the former Wigan boss, there will be a shed load of disappointment.
In a way, it reminds me of when Garry Monk arrived at the club. I felt there were quite a few who weren’t keen on him from the start. They didn’t take to him, even before he had taken the team for a game, and unless the Chairman hires Paul Cook or a leading name, I can see the same happening again. Now, I’m not for one second saying you should hire the name the fans are calling for based on their backing, as there are a lot of things to consider other than supporters liking an individual. If some fans had their way, a manager would be leaving Hillsborough after every couple of defeats.
So, all this got me thinking in terms of the options available. And there are plenty, of course. As I’ve said on the podcast I host, either way, there will be criticism of the Chairman, the decision and, therefore, disappointment. Even if we brought Paul Cook, an appointment many would support, if it didn’t work out, there would be some asking why we didn’t stick with Neil Thompson. If we stick with Thompson, and things don’t go to plan, well, you know what people will say.
I wanted to explore the possibility of keeping Thompson in position until the end of the season, and why I think some could end up buying into the decision. Now, I’m not saying it will happen. And, I’m not necessarily saying it is the decision I’d make. I’ve always thought, though, that if we started playing better and getting results, giving the job to Thompson and his team could put him in contention. But I think there must be more to it than just saying continue until the summer.
By not bringing a new gaffer and coaching team, as everyone will know, it will save us money. Some will suggest that moving in this direction will be the Chairman taking the cheap option. If we don’t make an external hire, is there the potential to reinvest that bit of money into the short and longterm? And could doing so show a positive or two to supporters?
As Thompson has been at the club for a decade, he understands what Wednesday fans ideally want to see in terms of how the team plays, as shown during his short stint in charge. And, at this moment in time, there’s a desire to see the handbrake remain off, which is something Thompson will try and do. He’s also a respected figure behind the scenes and has built up trust and relationships with Lee Bullen and Nicky Weaver, who could form part of a coaching team.
Wednesday threw the coaching team together when Tony Pulis left, and there will be a need to sort this out if Thompson is to get the job on a more permanent basis. But, rather than bringing a new gaffer and staff, we could add one or two coaches into the mix. Thompson is an experienced football man. He will know what’s needed, and what those around him can add. And, areas where they’re potentially weaker in, too.
I do not doubt that Thompson, Bullen, Weaver and co all know what the football club’s problems are. And, there will be an eagerness on their part to effect positive change somehow. One area often discussed is recruitment. An area in which I think we must invest. Could we potentially put funds towards doing so if we don’t have to spend on a new manager and coaching team?
I’ve said it before, and I will repeat it. By investing in a recruitment department, the Chairman will make and save money further down the line. I know there isn’t much money around in football, but it’s a must for me if there’s an opportunity to do it. We need to get with the times and support the likes of David Downes and Dean Hughes. It’ll also make us less reliant on those who are potentially wanting to serve their own interests, rather than the clubs.
As far as I know, Neil Thompson and his staff already have a working relationship with the recruitment guys. They will want to collaborate to make the right decisions for the club regarding the people we bring into the building and how much it impacts us financially. It won’t be a case of hard work going to waste, and neither will there be anybody pulling rank to get their own way.
Thompson, Bullen and Weaver know the younger players at the club who are in and around the first-team picture. And those on the verge of being so. They will have excellent knowledge from working with them, which could be crucial as we rely on them more than ever these days. There will also be the rapport and knowing how to manage and protect the younger players when needed.
Recently, there have been examples of managers departing and their coaching staff taking over. The same happened at Wednesday when Dave Jones left, and Stuart Gray replaced him after a period as caretaker manager. Could it provide some much-needed stability for the players and other members of staff in the building? Stability is something we have lacked for a while, and it’s underrated, in my opinion.
Every appointment is a risk. A manager can have all the experience in the world and fail. Their nationality is irrelevant, too. They could have achieved promotions and worked with some big names at some prestigious clubs and struggle here. A lot of it is down to how the club operates, of course, but there’s a need to be open-minded I think. It’s always worth considering how an appointment can impact other areas positively. And, while I’m only exploring this option in more detail, it would likely disappoint advisers attempting to push their names, and I’m all for that.