Garry Monk: Why he was sacked and what's new a year after Sheffield Wednesday exit

Time flies when you’re having fun, so they say. Or in the case of Sheffield Wednesday when you’re, well, not.

By Alex Miller
Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 1:16 pm

It’s scarcely believable that today marks the first anniversary of the end of Garry Monk’s 14-month spell as manager of the club and when a late-night confirmation shocked onlookers.

Shocking, perhaps, because it had seemed Monk had dodged the bullet. Four defeats in a row, including three against likely fellow relegation strugglers Luton Town, Rotherham United and Wycombe Wanderers, seemed to completely eclipse the good feeling garnered in an otherwise encouraging start to the campaign.

Asked a particularly spiky question or two, Monk’s post-match press call at Wycombe in particular lifted the mask on a man under pressure.

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But it seemed that pressure had been eased in a whirlwind week of Wednesday news in which they beat title hopefuls Bournemouth at home and, most crucially, their 12-point deduction halved on appeal.

Between that result and a 0-0 draw with Millwall that proved to be Monk’s last as Wednesday boss, Dejphon Chansiri gave a mammoth press conference to assembled media during which he was asked of his backing of his manager, who had earlier that day spoken of a determination to beat the drop.

It is, perhaps, in that wording that the death knell fell on Garry Monk’s time at S6.

The widely-held suspicion has since become clear to The Star that Monk was sacked not because of a lack of faith that he would keep the club up, rather because the club’s hierarchy believed they should be challenging closer to the playoff places at that time.

Former Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk left the club one year ago today.

“At the moment, he is still here,” Chansiri said ominously four days before his sacking. “I always back my coach 100 per cent all the time.

“He knows what he needs to do from the start of his job. We have talked about our target. Every coach is the same."

He later said in the same press conference: “My expectation is to get to the playoffs, to get there it would normally be 90 points. Minimum I expect to get playoffs.

“It is still early, we only played 10 games. Maybe this year we can get sixth position.”

The feasibility of that mission, given the circumstances the manager was working under, are debatable.

Monk’s replacement Tony Pulis, who was soon sacked having achieved only one win in 10 league matches with Wednesday, had already been tentatively sounded out by people around the club at this stage, we believe. His was a case pushed strongest within the club by Amadeu Paixao.

The disastrous nature of that 45-day spell was, we understand, one of a number of deciding factors in the long-time advisor’s behind-the-scenes back-step from club operations.

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There followed the up-and-down stint of Neil Thompson and a run-in under current manager Darren Moore so cruelly impacted by his time in hospital.

In the end, of course, Sheffield Wednesday fell some way short of a playoff campaign. They were relegated as the bottom side in the Championship after coming to within one goal of an improbable survival in a last day shootout at Derby County.

Had those early season targets been more realistic, would the stability of Garry Monk’s continued reign earned the three extra points they needed to beat the drop? It’s entirely possible.

Sources within the club suggest Monk was popular with both players and non-footballing staff. He had only recently been able to bring in his own coaching staff and though that quartet of defeats had rather taken the stuffing out of any early season optimism, there was a feeling within the squad that they would have survived.

Players and staff were as shocked as anyone by his sacking – The Star revealed at the time that the players were not briefed ahead of the confirmation statement and that one senior staff member found out about the news via a television bulletin.

How much of this is relevant to the Sheffield Wednesday of today? Well, aside from the obvious fact that the Owls tonight play in the EFL Trophy as a League One side, not a great deal. It appears to be a very different place.

The club is a much-changed place both at pitch level and – as far as the arms-length suggestions we can gather are concerned – further up. The influence of newly-positioned faces such as Liam Dooley, ironically a Garry Monk lookalike, have breathed fresh ideas into the club at mid-management level.

Fans will hope it doesn’t prove to be another false dawn.

Monk admitted problems with the fabric of the club unashamedly, most notably after defeats at Wigan Athletic and a rock-bottom thrashing at Brentford, and though he stopped short of explicit details spoke of the need to improve the changing room culture.

“Hard work has been at the core of our daily work and the standards of that work have definitely been demanded and raised since I first arrived at the club,” he said in a classy parting statement released by the League Manager’s Association.

“I do believe there has been some foundations put in place that will enable the club to be successful in the future.”

Whether or not you believe that to be the case is in the eye of the beholder, of course. But in voicing his concerns over changing room culture Monk kicked off a squad clearout later completed by Darren Moore this summer by waving goodbye to a host of senior players. There were structural tweaks behind the scenes, too.

A year on from his time at Sheffield Wednesday, Garry Monk is yet to jump back into management. The restructure he started has been handed over to Darren Moore.

It remains to be seen what we’re discussing in a year’s time.