MAYBE it is fair to say that Dave Jones has established a reputation for liking high-profile, experienced players who can be counted on to deliver quality.
But he also places great importance in the development of young talent.
On both counts he has a proven track record.
Just a couple of examples: Jay Bothroyd, a big star in Jones’ time at Cardiff who is now kick-starting his career at Hillsborough, and Rhys McCabe, a fledgling Owl who has made a remarkable impact for a 20-year-old.
Jones seems to have the knack of inspiring all sorts of different characters and types of players. That is a mark of astute man-management.
When asked again yesterday about this link between him and Bothroyd, the Owls boss admitted: “He’s a pain in the backside. He’s a high maintenance. He has a talent. I still don’t think he has fulfilled what he is a capable of. Whether I give him the confidence, I don’t know.”
Jones is surely being modest. How to handle players is something he knows all about. He treats them fairly and like adults, and, as he has said from day one, his door is always open, and he has no favourites.
“Everybody is the same here,” he says. “They’re treated in different ways because of their different personalities, but as a team they’re treated the same.”
In the case of McCabe, Jones seems to take almost a fatherly attitude: pleased that the midfielder has shown such maturity, but concerned not to ask too much of him too soon.
The youngster had not done much of a pre-season but, after Chris Lines’ injury, he was plunged into the side and has held down a place, looking at home in the Championship.
Then he was away with Scotland Under 21s for two games and did not rejoin the Owls until yesterday, the day of departure for their game at Brighton.
“Rhys has played a lot of games already; it’s a lot to ask of a young player who didn’t have a pre-season,” says Jones. “We have to be wary of that. But he hasn’t let anybody down yet.”
You get the feeling that he would like to give the midfielder a break, if he could. Scotland U-21 manager Billy Stark did so, not playing him in the second of the two internationals.
Jones was grateful: “I did speak to Billy and tell him the number of games the lad had played. Thankfully he did the right thing.”
McCabe has shown ability and composure for one so young. Jones says: “He’s a strong boy; he has a mature, thick-set body and has inner strength.”
That places him a bit higher up the ladder than recent arrival Paul Corry, who was training part-time with University College Dublin: “Paul hasn’t got that inner strength yet. You only get that by proper training, Rhys has had that through his full-time training with Rangers.”
Jones the man-manager trusts his players to look after themselves while they are away from the club: “Every workplace is based on trust. I don’t live with them. There will be ones who don’t do it right; but so long as it’s the only time they don’t, it shows they’re learning.”