Empty seats and transfer tweaks: Garry Monk on how the coronavirus continues to shape Sheffield Wednesday

The full weight of the coronavirus crisis will be felt on Sheffield Wednesday and football in general for decades to come, we’re told.

By Alex Miller
Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 5:00 pm

Just as the Owls turned the home straight on a torrid season, it hit and stopped society – football and sport with it – in its tracks.

While a huge number of industries are in a similar position, football looks as one of those that will be changed forever. And in the case of Wednesday, it came at a peculiar time.

With the contracts of several players nearing an end and with Owls boss Garry Monk having reiterated the need for squad transition, the club entered March looking ahead to a summer transfer window that would likely see a conveyor belt of new faces.

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SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - JULY 01: Sheffield Wednesday warming up during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and West Bromwich Albion at Hillsborough Stadium on July 01, 2020 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Plans for drawn up, approaches prepared. And then the pandemic hit, changing the face of football finance. With little indication of when supporters will be allowed back into Hillsborough, it’s a landscape that continues to shift.

“I had a plan about the transition and what I wanted that to look like,” Monk told the club’s official website on a squad transition he identified early on in his reign was badly needed.

“I always had that plan there and, of course, the pandemic hit. Not just us but many, many clubs. This market that we are in right now is very, very difficult for clubs and we have to respect that.

“I am delighted with the three that we have brought in but, like with any plan, you have to be adjustable.”

It’s not just in S6 that things have been altered. The Championship rumour mill is unusually quiet.

A new-look coaching team and three new players – Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, Chey Dunkley and Izzy Brown – are through the Wednesday door, with long-serving coaches and players alike out of the picture, albeit some further than others.

But that changing face of football finances, and indeed those of Sheffield Wednesday, have altered the feel of the Garry Monk revolution. And while he would like more activity, more quality through the door, he appreciates that life as we now know it is not quite as simple as that.

“During the pandemic, the club and the chairman have supported everyone,” he said on a policy that saw Dejphon Chansiri top up the furloughed salaries of the club’s non-footballing staff.

“There are people that have lost their jobs in the world today and the chairman has not done that and I think that deserves huge credit.

“As much as every manager, I would love more quality players coming in to help, and we know we need that, but we have to respect the fact that we are not the only club is having to work out or adjust that plan.

“My plan is very clear and I am delighted with the three that we have brought in but, of course, adding more is something we need.

“We have to respect it is difficult times for everyone at the moment.”

The club are believed to be in pole position to complete the signing of Wigan Athletic forward Josh Windass and have reportedly have had a bid accepted for West Brom starlet Jonathan Leko.

The Owls face stiff competition from other clubs – reportedly Birmingham and Brighton – for the speedster’s signature and are understood to be behind in the race.

Work goes on to transform the squad and with the transfer window not set to close until October 5, there is still plenty of time for Monk and Wednesday to bring further new faces in. Monk appeared confident further business would be completed and patience, the Owls boss suggested, is required.

“Of course, the end goal is to help the group and recruit the right players,” he said. “We know there are certain areas we would like to recruit but we have to respect the fact that everyone is working hard behind the scenes.

“There are other things at play here and I think the club have done well up to this point considering the whole thing when we talk about the pandemic and what else is going on at other clubs and around the world in business.

“We have to be mindful of that in terms of the rush and want for it. We all want that from the the fans, the club and myself as a manager but we have to have some sort of understanding that it is not just take, take, take.

“We have to allow the club to adjust that plan as other clubs are doing right now and what you are seeing across the whole of football world.

“As a manager, you want that plan done and accelerated as quick as possible but you have to understand that we can't do it like that. We have to adjust that plan. If it is a little bit slower or a little bit less than what I would like an all those things, you have to be ready for that.

“So that is what we are doing and the club are working hard behind the scenes.

“Yes, we do know there are certain positions we need to strengthen before the season starts but I'm sure we will get to that point.”

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