Milan Mandaric would screw up his face, formulate some venomous words and then almost visibly bite his tongue.
It was always the same whenever this column tackled him on the worst excesses of foreign football club owners.
“I don’t understand some of them, can’t relate to them,” he would only say with painful restraint.
Which is why I trust Mandaric’s judgment on the new owner of Sheffield Wednesday. There will be no Sheffield Tuesday playing in red and white stripes on Milan’s watch! And that watch will continue under his chairmanship before and after the anticipated League ratification of Hafiz Mammadov’s takeover.
It’s a detail far more important than the £40m deal price and the potential riches to be invested in a push for the Premiership by the Azerbaijani oil and gas baron.
We have to reserve judgment on his methods, despite an instant promotion for his French club Lens, but I do like what I hear about his style.
Mammadov is said to be hands-off, low profile, not prone to ego or showmanship. Mandaric, of course, is very much hands-on and the new man would be wise to leave it that way for a little while at least.
It’s all happened very quickly – or slowly – depending on your point of view. Frankly, if I never have to write “takeover” and Sheffield Wednesday in the same sentence ever again it will be too soon!
But Mandaric stands to be thanked again for taking the time to get it right. Maybe too much time for those who’ve thrown up their hands and demanded precise answers.
Don’t they know takeovers are not an exact science? Surely supporting this of all teams should have told them that?
But it came right in the end when Mandaric rescued the club and he’s taken care to ensure the same happens again. Not so much wrong with that, is there?
Look around. Of all those rumoured club buy-outs, how many actually happen? How many fall through at the last minute? How many were publicity stunts? And. . . how do you tell?
Journalists understand the frustration even if they’d like it equally understood that they can become as hacked off as the supporters.
The biggest questions are these: Is the club falling into the right hands? Will the new owner invest enough to succeed? And, MOST important, will he be prudent enough NOT to stretch for promotion at ALL costs?
Remember where that led before, the dark void Mandaric filled. He won’t want to see those efforts laid bare. Again, the soundings are positive, suggesting an owner who will grow the club without being reckless.
These issues are much bigger than the ones fixating those who’ve watch the grains of sand filtering through the egg-timer of the summer transfer window.
Yes, top target Matty Fryatt has joined Nottingham Forest instead and Wednesday are making a regrettably late start. But how could they do otherwise when they didn’t know how much money they had to play with?
And finally, something that would hearten me even more – Mammadov keeping Stuart Gray at the helm, for now at least. One, Gray deserves it. Two, it makes sense.
Three, it will be Mandaric’s firm recommendation. And where is the value, on his track record, of ignoring that?