“I love this club…” – Izzy Brown on patience, Tony Pulis and coming off the bench at Sheffield Wednesday
Izzy Brown’s spell at Sheffield Wednesday hasn’t gone quite as he’d have planned, but he’s got half a season to prove himself in blue and white – and he’s determined to do so.
The 24-year-old seemed like a fine signing by Garry Monk as he looked classy and graceful in his first few games in a Wednesday shirt, but then injury and the firing of the manager that signed him saw him spending more time on the bench than on the field.
A creative midfielder on loan from Chelsea, Brown averages a better chance creation per minute than any other Owls player (he’s created one every 47.5 minutes), and while he admits that the arrival of Pulis at Hillsborough didn’t help his cause, he’s feeling very at home.
Speaking to The Star this week, Brown said, “Even though I haven’t played as much as I’d have liked to, I love this club and I like the boys and staff. Under Garry Monk the first few games were amazing and I was playing every minute, and then I got an injury that side-tracked me.
“I was trying to build myself up, then the gaffer got sacked and Tony Pulis came in. I didn’t really suit his style of football, and that’s part of football. I was on the bench and coming on for five minutes, and that’s tough – everyone thinks you’re going to be an impact sub, but coming on is one of the hardest things in football.
“Now I feel like I’m fit, I’ve been doing extra to get my body right and I’m ready to go.”
Brown’s absence under Pulis was one that sparked plenty of debate among the fans, with many calling for an extra creative outlet to take some of the burden off Barry Bannan’s shoulders and give the opposition something else to think about.
But on the bench he remained, limited to five or 10 minute cameos at best.
“We had conversations and he was always saying positive things,” he said of Pulis. “He’d pull me after training and tell me I’d done good, but when it came to the weekend he never started me. He’s got his ways though, and his record speaks for itself. He’s a great manager with a great history.”
And though he remains committed to trying to perform at his best whether it’s for 90 minutes or 10, he acknowledges that his impact as a substitute is not his strongest suit.
He admitted, “Coming on has never been something I’ve been very good at I can be truthful to myself about that. It’s tough to get up to the speed of the game, you have to figure out what’s around you and in the position that I play there’s always going to be two or three players there… Your brain isn’t as sharp as when you start a game.
“I feel like I have more influence starting games, but if a manager wants me to come on off the bench then I’ll try and impact it as best I can. Thommo has already said that he’s going to do a lot of rotations because we’ve got a lot of games coming up, so hopefully I get my chance and can prove that I should be playing – I’ve just got to be patient.”
Game time aside, the former West Bromwich Albion youngster says that he’s thoroughly enjoying his time at Hillsborough, and – as previously reported by The Star – would be open to sticking around once his Chelsea contract expires in June.
He said, “I would say that this club, and my previous one at Luton, have been the best set of boys that I’ve ever been with. Off the pitch we’re always messaging each other random things, we used to go out for food together when things were open, and there’s no bad egg in the team. There’s none, and that’s hard to say in football…
"This club is a perfect fit for me… So it’d be great for me to play here permanently, but you never know what people will do. But I’d definitely consider signing permanently.”
And while the atmosphere off the pitch is clearly good, up until recently though, things hadn’t been so great on it. Brown was one of those who isn’t shy to voice his feelings on social media, and he says that he’s come to terms with it now – good or bad.
“When I was younger it used to affect me. When I was on loan at Vitesse – where I didn’t do very well – I’d see tweets telling me I wasn’t very good. But as you grow older you realise that it’s part of the game, and that fans have a right to be angry and annoyed when you don’t win or play well. That’s their right, they can say what they want.
“I used to play in Youth Cup games when I was 17/18, and you’d get tweets afterwards. Chelsea fans tweeting me saying you need to get released - at 17-years-old! Once you get older you build a mentality where you know your value, so you focus on yourself.
“But some of the negativity, especially after one bad result, can have an effect on some of the boys and the way they play… Sometimes fans live too much in the moment – like when one fan tweeted me about relegation, and I just replied saying ‘say something at the end of the season’. You have to think long-term.
“But I’ve got a lot of respect for the fans, and sometimes if they give me some banter, then I’ll give some back. We’re all humans.”
And for those humans, players and fans alike, the next task at hand is a trip to Goodison Park this weekend. Brown’s no stranger to Premier League stadiums, and maybe it can be the venue where his SWFC career kicks back into gear.