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Hillsborough old boy: Former Owls No 2 Russ Wilcox
Hillsborough old boy: Former Owls No 2 Russ Wilcox
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FORMER Owls assistant manager Russ Wilcox did radio commentary on Wednesday matches while he was looking to get back in the game.

But it was as assistant boss of Bournemouth that he watched the 4-1 win against Bury in preparation for the Cherries’ visit to Hillsborough - a task he believes is now twice as hard as it could have been.

“I thought it was a good performance,” said Brian Laws’s ex-No 2. “It was their bigggest win of the season; they looked solid at the back, creative in midfield, and they’ve got good strikers, which I think is the difference between the top six and the others in this division, because if things aren’t going right you can make a change that swings the result in your favour.

“It’s a tough challenge for us.

“When any team changes the manager, they always seem to get that fresh impetus; it’s a new voice and a different style.

“Everyone’s got their own way of playing; there’s no right way and no wrong way.

“When a new manager comes in, the players who are in the side have to prove they are worthy of keeping the shirt; it also gives the lads who have been out the team under the previous manager a fresh start. It gives everyone a massive boost.

“Watching Wednesday on Tuesday was more important because of the change of manager, to see how much he would tinker with it. He did tinker with it a fair bit.

“Like Dave Jones said afterwards, whatever you do, it’s still important to get that result. It was a great start for him and the lads. You can’t beat starting with a win; it makes our job twice as hard, to be honest.”

Wilcox said he was not surprised at the changes made by Jones, which included a recall for winger Mike Jones:

“Dave has always been a 4-4-2 man and has always played with out-and-out wide players; he brought in Jones and went with the ‘big man, little man’ partnership up front (Gary Madine and Ryan Lowe).

Wilcox feels that Madine - who had his best game in months - benefited from having more balls played to his feet rather than in the air.

But he pointed out:

“Wednesday still have the same strengths at corners, free-kicks and long throws.

“Whoever is in charge, they are always going to be threat at set-pieces because they’re a big side.

“Maybe they didn’t get the ball forward as quickly as they would have done under Gary Megson but they still got quality service in to the front two.

“I know Dave. His teams will try to get the ball down and play.

“The change of manager will change our mindset a bit, but if we’re not prepared and organised to deal with their set-pieces, that could be our downfall.

“If we had a player who is 6ft 7in, we’d be doing the same things. What they did really well under Gary Megson was compete for the second ball as well as the first; they put you constantly under pressure.”

Wilcox’s own Hillsborough stay ended at the same time as Laws’ departure, They teamed up again at Burnley. Laws is still looking to get back in the game.

Wilcox saw the job as No 2 to Lee Bradbury at Bournemouth advertised and was appointed in December. “Getting the job was very pleasing after being out for 10 months,” he said. “It’s a great life when you’re in the game but tough when you’re out.

“There are a lot of good coaches and managers out there at the moment. Looking back, I think we did a half-decent job at Wednesday, with the three highest finishes in the league pyramid since they came out of the Premiership in 2000, the derby double and ninth in the Championship - I think they’d settle for that compared to where they are now.

“I’m surprised Brian hasn’t got back in yet. It would have been nice to have got back in with him. But I am very pleased to be working here.

“We were 15th when I came here, then we took 20 points from 10 games, which was a brilliant start.

“We have dropped away a bit. We’ve had some really good performances, but that comes second; you need the results as well.”

One to watch

Donal McDermott is the team’s creator, playing just behind lone striker Wes Thomas. McDermott played for Bournemouth on loan from Manchester City last season and was signed by the Cherries from Huddersfield in January.

History lesson

The clubs have met only 14 times in the league and cup; the record is only three wins for Wednesday, five for the Cherries - including a 2-0 victory at Dean Court in August - and six draws, two of them coming last season.