Alex Miller’s Sheffield Wednesday column: Garry Monk, Axl Rose and the Owls’ pursuit of former glories

On Saturday evening at around 5.30pm I made my way out of Oakwell and wandered onto the deserted streets of Barnsley.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 3:29 pm

As it often is after a football match, the noggin was still buzzing; of yet another new press box, of Garry Monk’s summation of proceedings, of new players and key moments.

And this time of the Sheffield Wednesday supporters’ vocal reaction to another frustrating result.

Because unlike in the moments after a handful of other performances in recent weeks, Wednesdayite boos were not constrained or apologetic, they were loud and deliberate.

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Making my way towards town and scrambling around for a pair of headphones, I hit play on Spotify and – true story – the melodic whistling of Axl Rose signalled the start of Guns N Roses’ 1989 track ‘Patience’.

Often misunderstood to have been written solely about Rose’s turbulent relationship with his future wife Erin Everly, it’s based on the singer’s hankering for happier times and in part the pressure of having to live up to the expectation of former glories – namely their debut album Appetite For Destruction.

“One reason the song was written was about needing patience and about having the lack of it,” Rose said in an interview in the days after the its release.

“I don’t have any patience now, same way basically for everybody else in the band.

Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk said he 'understood' boos from the travelling support after the Owls' 1-1 derby draw at Barnsley on Saturday.

“It just depresses us because we go, ‘Man, we thought we were getting closer to finding some peace of mind. We’re farther from it than we’ve ever been.’

“Or at least that’s the way it seems.”

The parallels are there. Replace the word ‘band’ with ‘fanbase’ and he could well have been talking about Sheffield Wednesday.

Because Sheffield Wednesday supporters are understandably short on patience. Theirs is a club that has been in the doldrums two decades too long.

With the uncertainty of EFL charges looming large and on a run of one win in eight league matches, it seems this season will not offer delivery to the former glories of the Premier League. It’s another year on the tally.

But as Rose said about his rock band, Wednesday fans need patience now more than ever despite the fact that, understandably, it is on short supply.

Garry Monk has made clear that his intention is to make sweeping changes to the club in the summer months and after years of hiring, firing, rinse and repeat, it feels like it’s time for that squad shake-up.

Two years on from the release of ‘Patience’, Guns N Roses management sacked heroin-addled drummer Steven Adler and replaced him with Matt Sorum, formerly of The Cult. It was a significant change that contributed to the new sound on Use Your Illusion I and that sought-after return to former glories.

This is not Monk’s team and these are not Monk’s backroom staff. There are individuals, you suspect, that Monk wants to ship out before he starts again. And then who knows what might happen?

Change is coming. But a return to former glories is something Wednesday supporters have to wait on.