Alan Biggs' Sheffield Wednesday Column: Why a big rebuilding job awaits the next Owls manager... whoever that may be
When having some of the best reputed players in the Championship is not enough. That’s Sheffield Wednesday right now - and the task facing a new manager, be it the Cowley brothers of Lincoln or anyone else.
Nobody in their right mind could say that Barry Bannan isn’t a good player.
Or Fernando Forestieri. Or Sam Hutchinson.
Or .... Adam Reach, Steven Fletcher, Kieran Lee. Name any - Liam Palmer, Tom Lees and, of course, a fine keeper in Keiren Westwood.
All good players with proud careers. Any or all could yet have further impact at Hillsborough. As could Atdhe Nuhiu or Jordan Rhodes.
But when you consider the club as a whole, its development (or not, as the case may be), it’s an indictment that these 11 are still very much the basis of the squad nearly two years after the departure of the manager who teamed them up.
Some degree of change should have occurred even ahead of that. I think a failure to do so after the Wembley play-off final defeat in 2016, allied to poor recruitment, is at the root of the Owls current struggles.
So a big rebuilding job awaits and I believe that, whoever gets the job, it should be in a managerial rather than head coach role - with the power to lead on reshaping the squad.
For me, it needs a vision and a plan rather than transfer business being conducted piecemeal. And it needs time and patience, two to three years minimum.
As for the players mentioned above, this column has a lot of sympathy. None is to blame individually, some continue to perform well in ever tougher circumstances.
It’s just that collectively the chemistry is long past powerful. There is a feeling of same-old, a sense of needing some freshness and, if possible, a lowering of the average age.
Which would spell an almighty undertaking for Danny and Nicky Cowley, the dynamic duo of brothers who have taken Lincoln from non-league to second in League One.
No disputing they deserve a crack at a bigger club, having turned down Huddersfield amid an ongoing Owls interest from soon after Steve Bruce left.
The big difference and challenge for them would be to take on, and earn respect from, a dressing room of much higher stature. And to enforce much-needed change within it.
That’s why, personally, I’d prefer experience of the level for a job as tough as they come.
But the Cowleys are big on personality, which is something they’d need, and Wednesday need a sense of direction.
Hopefully fans get behind whatever is decided and also respect, again, the bridging role played by Lee Bullen who, if the players had performed last Saturday, could well have been on the brink of the job himself.
It will be sad indeed if these events spell a farewell for one of the club’s most loyal servants.