Mandaric faith banishes ghost of Christmas 1973

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WEDNESDAY evidently are keeping faith with Dave Jones and it seems safe to say there will be no repeat of Christmas Eve 1973.

The Star sports desk received a lunchtime phone call in which secretary Eric Taylor said there were two announcements to be made.

Firstly, Arthur Broomhead had been appointed vice-chairman.

Secondly, Derek Dooley had been sacked.

Our printers had to be recalled from having a Christmas drink in the pub as urgent changes were made to the following day’s paper, which had been prepared before the bombshell dropped.

It was one of those events that can leave people forever remembering where they were when they heard the news; on holiday at the time, I was at the home of relatives at Walkley, delivering presents.

I wasn’t covering Wednesday in those days, anyway, but in later years it became a bit of a standing joke on the desk that, because of unfortunate coincidences, I sometimes happened to be off work when a manager departed: Jack Charlton, Ron Atkinson, Trevor Francis and Chris Turner were the men involved.

So, you can imagine what was going through my mind when I had to take a week off and was set to miss the last two games, against Bristol City and Barnsley.

But you may remember that I also indicated here two weeks ago that even if the Owls lost to City, and thereby suffered a seventh successive defeat, it could not be assumed that Dave Jones would go, and there was another big match looming, at Oakwell.

Victory there has taken some of the heat off the club and added to a sense of stability. Once again there are hopes that a turning point in the season may have arrived, and never mind how it did arrive. Last Saturday’s game was not pretty to watch, on TV, but the Owls battled hard and the result was all important.

Jones was so right in observing that the team have played better and lost. It is not the first time that the Owls have been in this sort of position this season: it was hoped that successive wins against Ipswich and Peterborough, after a bad run, would be the start of a revival. But it did not happen.

What has been ever-present, however, was the sort of spirit that the team showed at Oakwell.

The vibes I get from the club suggest that there is a mood of togetherness, and that includes the chairman, management and players.

Milan Mandaric not only backed Jones with words some time ago but also sanctioned the loan signings of Mamady Sidibe and Jeremy Helan.

The chairman also agreed to Jones’ request that Stuart Gray be appointed, and today’s news that chairman and manager are working together on plans for the January transfer window seems to be further evidence of Mandaric’s faith in his manager.

Milan has in the past strongly disagreed with any perception that he is an impatient chairman and he cited Harry Redknapp and Nigel Pearson of how, when he finds a good manager, he sticks by him; now we can place Jones in that category.