Sometimes it is about the “man” rather than the “manager.” They don’t call Stuart Gray manager anyway but, even if they did, the type of bloke he is seems to be as important as his acknowledged skills as a coach.
I thought Giles Coke’s wording was significant after last weekend’s unlucky defeat to Nottingham Forest, ending Gray’s unbeaten start with Sheffield Wednesday this season.
“He’s a very good man – and coach,” the Coke said. “All the lads respect him a lot.”
Coke is an appropriate spokesman in this respect. How many supporters would have had him in their first choice line-up? Is any player more improved?
But he is not alone in lifting his game, other notables including Joe Mattock, Maghoma and, of course, Nuhiu.
Many wondered if Gray could maintain his impact of last season when, after Milan Mandaric had originally targeted more dynamic personalities, he quietly coaxed the right response.
Appreciative players are showing even more confidence now. In themselves as well as their boss.
Gray has also had the self-confidence to bring in maverick Dutch winger Royston Drenthe, whose temperament seems way short of his talent. It’s all very refreshing, an antidote to the cult of the personality manager.
Gray is calm, reasoned and measured.
Operating with far from the strongest squad and budget in the Championship, it is impossible to praise him too highly.