Megson delight as old boss Charlton pays surprise visit to see Owls finally win again
IT was just like old times for the Owls at Carlisle.
The presence of Jack Charlton was an extra reminder that their gritty and winning performance resembled those turned in regularly when they were a high-flying club.
It was not even a big surprise - coming after the radical improvement in form four days earlier at Bournemouth - but Big Jack’s appearance was.
The old master and his former pupil, Gary Megson, chatted briefly before the game.
“I turned round and there he was; I didn’t know he was going to be there; it was a brilliant surprise to see him,” said the Owls boss, who was signed by Jack, now 75, in 1981.
“I just asked him how his health was; he said really good; he’s taking pills for something, I don’t know what for; I said I don’t think watching us will help your ticker!
“He’s a great guy and it was fantastic to see him.”
Whether it was 1980, when in pre-Megson days Charlton led the Owls to promotion from the old third division, or 1984, when Howard Wilkinson’s side, with Megson a member, powered into the top flight, the club at times turned in displays like last Saturday’s.
It was a no-frills victory, with big helpings of organisation and endeavour, of the kind that any decent side will produce at times without hitting their peak.
Even if it was not terrific entertainment, that did not really matter in another potentially awkward contest that rounded off a five-match spell on the road
Points are what are needed most of all to keep confidence and the league position moving upwards.
Wednesday have the satisfaction of having won for the first time in 11 league games, and kept two successive clean sheets for the first time since mid-October.
Having looked shaky at the back for months, using a 4-5-1 formation they have now been much sturdier as a defensive unit, in the 0-0 draw at Bournemouth and in Saturday’s 1-0 win.
When Carlisle did manage a couple of dangerous strikes at goal, Nicky Weaver showed why he is rated by Megson as the best keeper in the division.
Centre-halves Reda Johnson and Mark Beevers again dealt with almost everything that came their way; Tommy Spurr is blossoming again, and Richard Hinds has been impressive in the last two games considering that he had not played in the league all season.
The goal came from another player who has only just got back in the side but has slotted in as if he has never been away: Tommy Miller.
Wednesday did not have quite the same effervescence that they showed at Bournemouth, which was probably a result of their travels, but they were effective.
Another cause for satisfaction was the fact that the goal stemmed from practice on the training ground.
Miller explained: “We’ve done a lot of work on corners, for and against; the defensive ones because we’ve been shipping too many goals, on attacking ones, the manager had it all planned out what we were going to do.”
Spurr hit an inswinging kick from the right and Gary Madine flicked it on at the near post; the ball was cleared at the far post but only out to Miller, who volleyed into the roof of net from five yards, for his seventh goal of the season.
“I’m delighted, and it’s just nice to win a game,” said Miller, also pleased to be captain.
“I’ve only been captain a handful of times in my career, in Hartlepool and Ipswich days. It’s an honour to be captain of this club.
“Hopefully it will last a long time. I’m quite vocal, anyway, but it’s nice to lead the lads.”
His prime aim is to stay fit: “It’s been a horrendous time on the injury front. I’ve had five muscle tears in 18 months. I enjoy my football when I do play; it’s nice to be back in the team and to have won a game.
“Against Carlisle we haven’t played particularly well with the ball, but we’ve got three points. When you come to places like this, you have to dig in and defend well. I thought the lads at the back were excellent.”
Wednesday also made chances for Gary Teale, Reda Johnson and Darren Potter, and created other promising situations that might have been more fruitful with a better final ball.
Madine, on his return to his former club, put one long-range header over the bar and played his part in the goal, but was taken off in the 68th minute.
Megson explained that the striker had been suffering from migraine beforehand and the manager added: “I think he looked tired. He’s only 20. There was a lot of pressure on him, coming back here. But he must be delighted with the reception he got when he came off.”
The striker was applauded by home fans, and at the end it was further deserved applause from the away ones for their team.
It’s the first away win in the league in a long time; two clean sheets, that hasn’t happened for a long time, and a goal from a set-piece, which we probably haven’t had for a while.
We’re making progress but we’re making it in baby steps.
I was delighted with their honesty. We looked in the last half hour as if we were running on
empty, even more so before.
Liam Palmer didn’t feel well at half-time. Gary Madine, it was touch and go in the morning whether he was going to play, because he had a bit of migraine.
Character wise, they’ve come through brilliantly. Football wise we’ve obviously got a lot of
work to do, but people, myself included, under-estimate what travelling takes out of you; traipsing to Bournemouth, then coming all the way up to Carlisle for another difficult game,
I think the players looked a bit jaded so we’ll give them a couple of days off to recharge the batteries.