No Gray area in support for Stuart

Owls boss Stuart Gray
Owls boss Stuart Gray
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Sometimes it’s as simple as needing a break and Stuart Gray, after yet another no-penalty controversy, certainly deserves one.

No mistaking that the next game can always be a potentially fateful one - at many clubs certainly - for a boss without a win in 10 league matches.

But statistics can always be turned another way and I’d rate Stuart Gray particularly unfortunate if anything untoward happened to him at this stage of his Sheffield Wednesday reign.

Consider these factors.

n No campaign to remove him, not even from a minority of supporters.

n No fall-outs with players and an atmosphere of respect around the dressing room.

n No top-notch loan striker in the club to help... as yet (efforts continuing as this was written).

n No goals conceded in nine of this season’s 18 Championship games.

OK, no goals scored for 333 minutes will be uppermost in most minds. Wednesday have netted only once in the last seven matches and have registered only three at home all season. Which is why Saturday’s visit of surprise strugglers Wigan, under a new manager in Malky Mackay, has a larger than usual look.

Yet it’s also a fact that the Owls have lost only one of their last six and remain a pretty together team; not a soft touch, far from dispirited or disunited - and with a key player back in Caolan Lavery.

In the last goalless encounter at Huddersfield I thought they looked the better side and (though consistently failing to score is no accident) a little unlucky on this occasion, Stevie May especially.

Would a defeat have had repercussions? You can’t be sure either way and the balance must be delicate right now. But I still think Gray is enough in credit to tip it his way. His earlier success in leading last season’s safety surge and launching a deceptively good start this time could be counting unfairly against him.

The atmosphere is far from the glowering discontent that preceded Dave Jones’ departure. Unlike in that period, there are no suspicions of player unrest and no great fan pressure on the chairman to make a change.

Against that, Milan Mandaric has said he was too patient with Jones and won’t leave himself with that regret this time if he feels action is needed.

Mandaric has a responsibility to his club and to himself, via his investment, to keep it in the Championship.

He doesn’t take his duties lightly. May has yet to deliver for an £800,000 signing and the Hallam Hope loan was bafflingly futile. Then again, Keiren Westwood and Tom Lees have been great signings.

But I don’t detect any great appetite for upheaval. Hopefully Gray and Wednesday will get that all-important break with the fans undoubtedly behind them on Saturday.

Longer term, though, you have to be mindful that it was only the loan goals of two high-calibre strikers that kept them up last time.