Two Sheffield Wednesday stars have criticised Dave Jones, accusing the former Owls manager of freezing out members of the squad.
Gary Madine and Chris Maguire struggled to hold down regular first-team spots under Jones, who was axed last December after a dismal run of just one win from 16 Championship outings.
Following a productive spell as caretaker boss, Stuart Gray was appointed head coach in January and steered the club to a 16th-placed finish. Wednesday currently lie in ninth position, two points adrift of the play-off placings, after suffering just two defeats from their opening 11 fixtures.
Striker Madine, contracted to the club until the end of the 2014/15 season, told The Star: “Stuart Gray is totally different to Dave Jones.
“Stuart has got more respect for his players.
“We give Stuart the same respect back. We all want to graft for him because he’s a good bloke and he deserves that.”
Forward Maguire, who will sit out the meeting with Watford after the two-week international break, having chalked up five yellow cards, said: “Stuart deserves a lot of credit for the start we’ve made.
“I worked with him at Portsmouth and since he has come here he has been brilliant. He gets all the boys going. Stuart speaks to the ones who aren’t in the team as well whereas maybe before you wouldn’t get spoken to and were maybe shut out. There is none of that this year.”
Wednesday are 10 points and 14 places better off in the league than they were at this point last season and Madine claims Gray’s team should be even higher up in the table.
“We have been very unlucky,” he said. “We dropped some points early on.
“We drew with Millwall in the last minute when maybe we should have held on.
“We should have beaten Bolton. We battered them. There is an extra four points which would have put us right up in the mix.
“I don’t see why we can’t be right up at the top of the league. There is plenty more to come from us.”
Former Owls youngster Ayo Obileye, meanwhile, has penned a short-term deal with Charlton Athletic.