Alan Biggs: The Sheffield Wednesday player that Gary Megson believes is 'the best in the Championship' and 'can take Owls into the Premier League'
The 'best player' in the Championship. Who 'completely changes' Sheffield Wednesday. Who has 'everything at his feet' - Â a 'massive asset who can take the Owls into the Premier League.'
The player is Fernando Forestieri. The speaker is Gary Megson. About whom you might think there is nothing in common apart from playing for the same club.
One is an extravagantly skilled individual who can be temperamental with it. The other was a tigerish team man who became, during a distinguished career on and off the field, the manager who turned Wednesday around during a pivotal spell in the club’s history.
But they are both tenacious characters and that’s one reason why the former Owls boss has unreserved admiration for the club’s most gifted player. The other big one is simply the talent itself. Enough in one diminutive character to transform Wednesday into promotion-winners next season, Megson believes.
THE best player in the Championship. This from a man not given to outlandish remarks. Some statement. Especially as Megson, in essence, would have been the first to be appalled by Forestieri’s apparent refusal to play during the stormy episode that will always be part of his Hillsborough story.
But that was more than 18 months ago. It has been forgiven by fans, if not forgotten, and Megson for one has drawn a firm line under it. Forestieri is back to starting – and scoring - albeit in a 4-2 defeat at QPR.
“If he can settle down then he’ll be a massive asset for Wednesday,” Megson told me following the 28-year-old star’s return from a near season-long lay-off.
“I don’t mean fitness-wise, I mean what he’s done in the past like getting the hump because he wanted to leave. Those things stick in the throat a little bit. But in terms of talent and work-rate, and the way he plays, he completely changes Wednesday.”
The honest toil and the controversial back story are a contradiction. On the field, this player has rarely, if ever, given less than 100 per cent. He’s a tracker-back and a tackler besides being mesmerising with the ball at his feet and on the run.
“I think he’s the best player in the Championship,” Megson insisted during an online appearance with me for you-are-the-ref.com. With that came a pep talk from the ex Owls manager who still supports the club, albeit from a distance.
“It’s a team game and he’s playing for a fantastic club. I used to watch him when he was at Watford... really talented... and after a while they weren’t playing him... there’s obviously something in his make up that clubs aren’t having... but he then gets the opportunity to play for an even bigger club.
“He’s got everything at his feet there and if he can just knuckle down – and I’m sure he can – he’s a massive asset.”
If former West Brom and Bolton boss Megson was a Premier League manager now, would he target Forestieri? “Yes, I’d want to sign him. But he can take Wednesday up there.”
It still needs plenty putting in place around him. But Fernando, it’s over to you.