Column: Not quite a zen master, but so far John Sheridan has been the calming presence Chesterfield so badly need
John Sheridan’s tone has been pretty much note perfect since he parachuted into the Proact.
It’s not so much what he’s said, although that has ticked a lot of boxes, but the way in which he’s said it.
Those who recall his first stint as manager almost unanimously used words like ‘intense’, to describe his demeanour.
Yet the Mancunian has been more mellow than mercurial.
He hinted at a more relaxed outlook in his opening press conference, admitting he smiles a bit more these days.
That has proved the case, up until now.
Of course all of this is said with a giant proviso –he’s yet to experience defeat.
Even the most mild mannered of managers can become the trickiest of post-match interviewees when they’ve experienced a loss.
Sheridan, to date, has been a calming presence – exactly what the club has needed.
Not only did they need to appoint someone who knew what they were doing, but that person needed to reassure an edgy fanbase of that fact.
Sheridan has made no bones about the need to get wins, quickly.
Yet according to Jerome Binnom-Williams, inset, the relaxed Sheridan we’ve seen in the press room, is the same Sheridan on the training ground.
When he spoke about the importance of enjoyment, for his squad, it wasn’t just talk.
It simply wouldn’t serve this club to have the panicky, poisonous atmosphere of previous relegation battles pervading the Proact.
Players have looked nervy at home this season, where the mood has quickly soured.
Breathing a bit of confidence back into them is vital.
Giving them license, some control over their own in-game decisions might just inject a little freedom into their play and yield results.
There is such a thing as too much information, and maybe there’s an argument that telling players, constantly, what to do, where to stand and who to pass to, doesn’t necessarily develop good decision making but an over-reliance on instruction from the technical area.
When a player does get into a potential match-winning situation, have you given them the belief that they have the ability to deal with it?
That’s what Sheridan is out to do.
He has recognised the peril the club are in, but he’s very calmly going about the task of pulling them back from it.
That’s not to say he’s transformed into a zen master.
On Saturday when a defender sliced a clearance out of play it wasn’t a soothing mantra that parted his lips – the air was turned blue.
However when it came to the post-mortem of a performance that was more palatable than many others this season, yet still lacking in crucial goals, he was philosophical – even when discussing a fruitless penalty appeal.
By simply saying the right things, in the right way, Sheridan has allowed fans to believe that things might just, at long last be okay.
And by the time the Derbyshire Times hits news stands this afternoon, the club should have taken steps to prove they’re right behind the manager.
Actions speak louder than words, after all, and strengthening the squad will go even further towards making the Proact a calmer, happier place.
The more positive the atmosphere, the more likely it is that we’ll see players at their best – and survival will hinge upon that.