SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Canny Dave finds stealth pays off in transfer deals

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danny Wilson once told the story of how he signed for the Owls.

Ron Atkinson rang him, it took about 30 seconds for his wages to be agreed, and that was that.

No agent was involved.

I bet managers these days wished signing a player was as simple.

Transfers can sometimes drag on for weeks before everything is done and dusted.

The Anthony Gardner move was perhaps one of the most protracted of Dave Jones’s managerial career, for whatever reasons.

The Chris Maguire transfer was not a five-minute job either, but the important thing is the Owls got their men in the end.

Other, behind-the-scenes, manoeuvres are likely to bear fruit as well.

The experience and ambition of Jones and the general outlook of the Owls appear to be strong magnets for players who are pondering their futures.

Jones is also a canny customer who likes to stay one step ahead of the opposition in the transfer market.

That is why he will not publicly divulge his targets or publicly confirm that he is chasing this player or that, because this may alert possible rivals.

Wednesday have had players whisked away from under their noses in the past.

One example was striker Alan Lee, who was on his way to join them on loan from Crystal Palace in 2009 but literally did a U-turn when he got a call to tell him he was wanted by Norwich (handy for him, because he lived in Ipswich).

In the 80s, Southampton centre-half Mark Wright was on the brink of signing for the Owls but the deal collapsed suddenly and he joined Derby instead.

One of the strangest deals of Jones’ career must have been the one that took Craig Bellamy on loan from Manchester City to Cardiff and left some chairmen whingeing that it was unfair,

Jones tells in his book, No Smoke No Fire, how the Wales forward’s move came about: “He lives across the village from me and I got a phone call out of the blue asking if I’d go round for a beer.

“I thought I was going to be commiserated for not beating Blackpool but Craig proceeded to tell me he’d love to play for us!

“I was so gobsmacked.I reacted by asking how many beers he’d consumed! I couldn’t believe he’d want want to leave Manchester City and come to Cardiff but he was genuine.

“He’d been in training once or twice while he was injured with City and mentioned his love of Cardiff but I never thought he’d act on it.”

With the help of Jones’ agent and Bellamy’s agent, Cardiff came up with a plan and landed the player for a “ridiculous” outlay, with City paying a chunk of his wages, not unusual when a Premier player is signed on loan.

In view of Jones’ extensive contacts in the game, what chance a big star ending up at Hillsborough?