DAVE Jones spoke on Friday at his pre-match press conference about how much he loves the job of football management.
He looked in good form despite the six-game streak of losses as he talked about how all the pressure on him and brickbats thrown in his direction only made him work harder to change Sheffield Wednesday’s fortunes.
Fast forward just over 24 hours and the Owls boss looked like a man who’d been up worrying all night about an eventuality that was now very real.
Defeat against one of his team’s relegation rivals and a seventh consecutive reversal - matching a run from the 2000 Premier League relegation season.
Bristol City couldn’t get away from Hillsborough fast enough after just about deserving to take all three-points with them back to the south-west.
The reason why the Robins can’t be considered lucky winners - despite late controversy that could have seen Wednesday grab a late equaliser - is that they showed the only true bit of quality on the day.
Albert Adomah’s 22-yard free kick in the 88th minute proved to be the winner as the Owls’ indiscipline cost them what should have been a much needed victory. But in truth they only had themselves to blame.
With Jones reverting to a 4-4-2 formation with Jermaine Johnson and Gary Madine recalled to the side that lost at Cardiff City last Sunday at the expense of Danny Mayor and the injured Mamady Sidebe it gave Wednesday a more familiar home shape.
And while the opening goal didn’t come because of any particular wing wizardry by Johnson or his counterpart Michail Antonio it did give the Owls a positive intent.
Johnson’s first touch came to nothing but Miguel Llera was fouled as he picked up the loose ball. From the free kick Owls’ on loan left back Jeremy Helan forced a left wing corner. Lines’ ball was bent into about eight yards out where Llera rose unmarked to power a header past City keeper Tom Heaton.
Jones said afterwards that Llera’s excitement at putting Wednesday ahead contributed to the Spaniard conceding the penalty that allowed the Robins to level.
Further goals through Madine and Chris O’Grady should have come Wednesday’s way before Llera upended Sam Baldock in the box.
It looked a clear penalty at first glance and Baldock showed good composure to send Chris Kirkland the wrong way from 12 yards.
The match was barely 20 minutes old but we’d already seen the very best and worst of the home team. It was heartening to see industry and endeavour from the players in blue and white shirts. O’Grady and Madine linked up well several times up front in a physical confrontation with City central defensive pair Stephen McManus and Matthew Bates.
But what was lacking was any real quality. Both Madine and O’Grady are no slouches in the pace department however the old adage of ‘the first yard being in your head’ was shown often.
The Wednesday striking duo played a key role in promotion last season but the step-up to the Championship is a big one and despite a goal from Madine questions have to be asked whether the Owls have what it takes in the most crucial positions.
Madine’s strike actually came when Bristol had had their first proper spell of dominance.
The first half had petered out into a stalemate and after Madine missed a good chance just before the hour and Johnson had twice tried his luck from distance the Robins began to threaten.
Bristol missed a great chance to go ahead on 72 minutes. O’Grady found himself in the left back spot and was easily beaten only for Adomah to fail to pick out a colleague in the centre.
Then Kirkland made a superb save as Taylor was set up six yards out. And Neil Danns fired over soon after.
When Wednesday did retake the lead it came as a surprise. Kirkland gathered a wayward cross and sent Johnson bursting through the middle.
Using Madine as a decoy the Jamaica international let fly and as Heaton parried Madine was on hand to tap home with 11 minutes to play. It had been vintage Johnson.
Unfortunately with four minutes remaining Madine followed Llera in turning from hero to villain by needlessly moving his arm to the ball in the penalty area to give Bristol their second penalty.
Baldock again was emphatic.
It was then that the fun and games really began. A surging run by Danns was ended by a poor tackle from Wednesday skipper Martin Taylor.
Adomah expertly scored from the free kick and that appeared to be that as the boos began.
But Wednesday had one last push. Rodri had come on for O’Grady on 81 minutes and as the match drifted into added time the Barcelona loanee made his first contribution by lobbing the ball goalwards.
The ball appeared to be blocked by the hand of Robins’ defender Richard Foster. Incensed that no penalty had been given Llera raced towards referee Marriner and put his hands on the official.
While the ref was blowing for Llera’s offence the ball was returned to the Bristol penalty area where Madine slammed it home.
Confusion reigned for several moments before the crowd realised the goal had been ruled out and no penalty was to be given.
There were more boos at the final whistle seconds later and while some were for Marriner a good deal more were for Wednesday who look short of many things.
Most of all, the nouse to get themselves out of this mess.