It is less than a week since I was sat on row 9 of the Kop at Hillsborough watching my beloved Sheffield Wednesday valiantly, yet not beautifully, battle to a one nil victory over bitter rivals Sheffield United. The match itself was a blur of nerves, clenched buttocks and chanting obscenities that’d make Bill Hicks pop his head out of his grave and say “Bit fucking harsh”
So to find myself reading that the man behind this victory, Gary Megson or Ginger Mourinho as he’s known in S6, has been sacked shakes me to my very core. Not only that but the man to replace him is the Championship’s almost man and Milan Mandaric’s latest dinner date Dave Jones.
The whole episode sounds like the beginning of a gangster movie in which a man gets usurped from his lifelong dream job as manager of the club he loved since he was a boy to be replaced by a man with as much tenacity as his name would lead you to believe; Dave Jones, sounds like the manager of your local newsagent not football club.
The man behind the sacking, Milan Mandaric, will ask people who question him to look at the bigger picture; yes Wednesday beat United but recently the Owls have become worryingly adrift of the hunt for second place in League One and it is race hotly contested with both MK Dons and Huddersfield Town joining the Sheffield clubs battling for that second automatic promotion spot.
Before last weekend the Owls had won only three games this year and been on a three game losing streak after losing to Exeter City, Stevenage and Chesterfield. Milan Mandaric has asked the fans to trust him in his appointment of Dave Jones but personally I would rather have Neil Warnock as manager given the talent of other unemployed managers available at the moment. Lee Clark, Mick McCarthy and Mark Robins are three names that spring to mind but given the man that underachieved season after season with Cardiff City has been given a three and a half year contract it’s safe to say his arrival would be received with a muted greeting at best from the Wednesday faithful.
Removing my avid Sheffield Wednesday supporter hat for a moment, Mandaric does have a good history in making appointments to help clubs; Portsmouth got to the Premiership in style after Mandaric’s master stroke of appointing Harry Redknapp and Mandaric again got Leicester City promoted from League One with class after bringing in Nigel Pearson.
However it can be argued that Leicester would never have been down there in the first place had Mandaric not gone through four managers in a season, Gary Megson one of them before leaving for Premiership based Bolton, and Redknapp left Portsmouth after Mandaric appointed Velimir Zajec as executive director. Of course he came back for Pompey’s infamous FA cup victory in 2008 but since then the clubs turmoil’s off the pitch have been more than well documented.
With that the credentials of Dave Jones on paper look good for the job he is taking over and I fully hope that he proves me wrong but I can’t see past the facts of his last season with Cardiff City. They had the best strike force in the league by a country mile with Craig Bellamy now at Liverpool, Jay Boothroyd now at QPR and Michael Chopra who has time and time again shown he can score consistently at Championship level. In midfield Peter Whittingham ran the show and still does with wonderful free kicks and long range goals. Yet Jones couldn’t get them into the promise land as plucky Blackpool came from behind twice to beat them in the playoff final.
Mandaric’s decisions to appoint Jones can go either one way or the other based on his previous appointments and only time will tell if they blossom into a beautiful white rose or become as nasty as a Luis Suarez inspired riot.
For Gary Megson, the whole of the footballing world has your sympathies in their hearts. He was a true football manager that loved the club he was managing. This was represented by the memory I will hold dear to me whenever I think of Megson’s reign as head of the Owl’s nest; After that full time whistle blew on Sunday the 26th of February Gary Megson threw a fist of triumph in the air toward the direction of the Wednesday faithful and to their delight, waved the United fans goodbye just after.
The current footballing climate has no time for football manager’s who have a heart which is a shame as Megson’s was the biggest in the football league.