Alan Biggs at Large: Chansiri '˜will splash the cash' to get Owls in the Premier League
Somewhere overseas, barring an occasional visit to these familiar shores, is a man taking quiet satisfaction in Sheffield Wednesday's ambitious turnaround. But, knowing him, he will also be hugely impatient.
A cynic would say that’s because he might also stand to benefit substantially if/ when the Owls return to the Premier League. But those who’ve worked closely with Milan Mandaric say he’s motivated by the game of football as much, if not more, than money.
And they give him enduring credit for putting the fallen giant back on its feet.
Among those admirers is Andy Daykin, as respected and trusted a figure as any in Sheffield football across a near-35 year span that makes him currently the longest surviving by a considerable distance.
The former Sheffield United commercial chief, who has spearheaded Wednesday’s marketing for much of the last five years, saw first hand how Mandaric invested enthusiasm and energy, besides money, into the project.
Daykin – equally convinced of Dejphon Chansiri’s commitment and predicting big spending again this summer – recalls how the former Portsmouth and Leicester owner was not the man he expected him to be.
Having been summoned for a job interview out of the blue, “I went in fear and trepidation,” says Daykin, based on his reputation as a “hire ‘em and fire ‘em type chairman.”
Now, Andy’s a great guy but he’s no softie, having operated in some tough times at both ends of the city.
“He’s also worked with a multitude of characters. So the next bit takes you aback but also explains why Mandaric, who rescued Wednesday in 2010 and sold out to a far wealthier successor last year, is held in such high regard by Wednesdayites.
“Milan’s probably one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in football,” says Daykin, which is as far from the darker side of Mandaric’s reputation as you can get.
“Anybody had a chance to snatch the club from the jaws of administration; he was the one who did it.
“He’s such a football person and he was great to work for.
“If things weren’t going well he’d say it’s not the man who gets knocked down who loses but the man who doesn’t get back up.”
Mandaric is still in the saddle at 77. Last season, his latest club, Olimpija Ljubljana, won Slovenia’s top division to claim their first major trophy.
It’s a scale or two down on his Wednesday chairmanship in relative terms but he’s still living the dream with a passion.
And the occasional tempestuous outburst? “Yes,” says Daykin, “he had a temper but he really did care about and understand football. I really enjoyed his company, a fabulous guy and a proper gentleman who carried the aura of being chairman.”
No questioning Chansiri’s determination, either. Andy describes him as “very, very hands on with any meaningful decision going through the chairman.”
The following has also been said by others but no-one has said it more unequivocally.
Daykin on Chansiri and the 2016-17 season: “He is absolutely 100 per cent determined that Sheffield Wednesday will get promoted. I’m sure there’ll be a flurry of purchases later in the summer.”