Sheffield Wednesday: Opposing bosses Worthy of Owls’ affections

York City manager Nigel Worthington.
York City manager Nigel Worthington.
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You can be sure both managers will receive good receptions before kick-off from the travelling fans when Sheffield Wednesday head to York City for their opening pre-season friendly.

It is well documented the job Stuart Gray has done in transforming Wednesday’s fortunes since succeeding Dave Jones last December. Although their results and performances tailed off towards the end of the 2013/14 campaign, Gray deserves huge credit for steering the Championship outfit away from trouble and to a 16th-placed finish.

The same can be said of Nigel Worthington, Gray’s managerial counterpart at York, and the former Northern Ireland international is likely to get a big round of applause from the away end when they welcome the Owls to Bootham Crescent on Saturday, July 12, having spent 10 years of his playing career with Wednesday.

Worthington turned the Minstermen from relegation candidates to League Two play-off semi-finalists.

On December 29, York sat 22nd in the basement division of the Football League after 23 outings and were above the bottom two only on goal difference.

But a remarkble 17-match unbeaten run, including 11 victories, helped York clinch seventh spot and the final play-off berth.

However, York failed to reach the final after losing 1-0 on aggregate over two legs to Fleetwood Town.

Worthington said: “We are disappointed at the moment but we have got to get over that, dust ourselves down and get ready for the new season after we have had a holiday. Expectations will rise but, as a manager and players, we have to live with that.”

For Wednesday, July promises to be a hectic month, with warm-up trips to York, Bury and Doncaster Rovers already arranged.

As part of their pre-season preparations, Gray’s men will visit Slovenia from July 19 to 24.

Sandwiched in between the Bury and Rovers clashes is a Hillsborough meeting with Newcastle United.

They will round off their programme by taking on Barnsley at Oakwell on August 2, a week before the Football League season starts. It’s a series of fixtures that will test the quality and strength of Wednesday’s squad.

*Wednesday’s full pre-season schedule: Saturday July 12: York v Owls (3.00pm), Friday July 18; Bury v Owls (7.45pm); Sunday July 27: Doncaster v Owls (2.00pm); Wednesday July 30: Owls v Newcastle (7.45pm); Saturday August 2: Barnsley v Owls (1.00pm).