Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: The key area where Owls are lacking
A passionate, diehard Wednesdayite asked me a little over a month ago whether the club should consider bringing in a director of football (DOF).
The person, who shall remain nameless, suggested a DOF could improve the Owls’ recruitment process. Like a lot of Wednesday supporters, the fan has voiced his concerns on social media over the club’s transfer dealings in the last year and a half.
Since their last meeting with Hull City at Wembley, the Owls have added quantity, not quality. They haven’t enhanced their starting eleven anywhere near enough to kick on to the next level.
Nevertheless, I’m not in favour of a DOF coming in and I explained in depth to the fan why I think it would not be a good move.
The issue I have with a DOF is that individual can sometimes undermine the position of a manager. Quite often the DOF has been a manager before in their career so their appointment can be viewed as a direct threat to the manager’s autonomy. If a manager is sacked after a poor run of results, it is fairly common for the DOF to take over on a caretaker basis at the very least.
If there is no trust or bond between the manager and the DOF, then problems behind-the-scenes only stack up.
Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri has made his feelings known on the subject this week.
“I do not believe in the concept of one person such as a director of football having the control such an appointment would bring,” he said.
“I have advisors around the world and we work and consult together as a committee on a regular basis. I prefer to listen to different voices as opposed to just one. If you look around this country, through the Football League and all the way up to the Premier League, directors of football are few and far between. The structure we have in place now mirrors that of most clubs in England and for that matter across most of Europe.”
So a DOF is clearly not on the agenda at S6.
And in his ‘Ask the Chairman’ series, Chansiri has openly discussed the club’s relationship with Doyen Sport and reiterated he has other unnamed global advisors who assist Wednesday with identifying talent.
That is all well and good but is the present system efficiently working? On balance, you would have to say ‘no’ as the Owls have assembled a bloated squad and come up short in each of the last two seasons.
Where I believe Wednesday could do with extra numbers and expertise is at boardroom level. Chansiri is a workaholic and I firmly believe his intentions are good for the club but appointing a head of football operations would ease some of the stress and strain on himself and head coach Carlos Carvalhal.
There is a subtle and important distinction to be made between a head of football operations and a DOF.
A head of football operations supports everything to do with the manager and is someone who reports to the board on all aspects of the club, ranging from sports science, recruitment, the first-team and the academy. A DOF, though, is responsible and in control of all footballing matters, including the manager. The DOF has the power to override the manager’s decisions on tactics and team selection.
Huddersfield Town are a good example of a club where the head of football operations role has worked effectively. Just a thought.