How wrong I was about 'exceptional' Sheffield Wednesday appointment

POSITIVE: Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl on the touchlinePOSITIVE: Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl on the touchline
POSITIVE: Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl on the touchline
Alan Biggs is happy to say he was wrong about the type of manager Sheffield Wednesday needed to try and escape relegation

Let’s come clean on this regardless of the outcome - those of us who thought rescuing Sheffield Wednesday was no job for a managerial novice were completely wrong.

It was quite a lot of us. And you well know the sort of boss I’d have favoured, along with a significant portion of the fan base. But I reckon we’d have been right in most instances of the rookie kind of appointment. That’s why Danny Rohl has proved not only a notable exception but also exceptional.

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The young German can be judged on the reasonable assumption that no experienced manager - including you know who - could have done a better job in such dire circumstances. So I’m happy here to hold both hands up on that, while maintaining that Wednesday should be taking a longer term view of it. Only that way did it seem to make sense.

The Owls had three points and no wins from 11 matches when Rohl took charge in late October. Predictably he lost his first two, both away from home, and relegation felt close to a certainty with most supporters sensibly vowing to stand by the club’s 34-year-old head coach in that event.

Since then he’s won 12 of 31 league games (writing ahead of Norwich in midweek) with a victory ratio nudging 40%. That is simply remarkable for a club in such desperate straits. I’d suggest Rohl is a genuine overall Manager of the Season contender if the great escape is completed.

Ironically, two of the qualities he has brought to the table are the stock in trade of you know who, that there Mr. Warnock. Clarity and force of personality. Man-management for short. Again, that’s pretty extraordinary to find in the youngest boss in the English pro game. More to it, of course, in that Rohl has delivered advanced coaching techniques from his time with Southampton, Bayern Munich and the German national team. But you can also see some of the personal energy and magnetism of a Jurgen Klopp in the way he has so expressively driven his side. It is a heart-on-sleeve approach leaving no room for doubt, either for players or supporters, about how he feels.

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You might add the chairman to that list. Rohl’s sometimes pointed public utterances strongly suggest he has the measure of the club, its infrastructure and the way it has been run. Can he change that? Not directly. But amid the will-he-go or will-he-stay intrigue, it’s clear that Rohl is not one for having a political line to tow. He feels strongly enough placed to make observations, however obliquely, that his many predecessors haven’t dared go near. And he’s right, he is in a position of some clout. It’s not personal, it’s professional.

His and Wednesday’s gamble in each other has come close enough to paying off to be an unqualified success. Rohl is now impeccably placed to advance his career, whether at Hillsborough or elsewhere. The big question is - can the club keep pace?

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