Comment: Lee Bullen is a popular man at Sheffield Wednesday - but is he the right man for the manager's job?
A few carefully-chosen words delivered in assertive Edinburgh drawl were enough to see the bookies’ odds tumble.
As Lee Bullen rose through the pack of dozens to take his position as the bookies’ favourite to become Steve Bruce’s successor this week, a collective purr rustled through the club’s fanbase.
Now into his third stint as caretaker, Bullen has steered the Owls through what looked likely to be seriously choppy waters following Bruce’s ship-jump, the 4-0 thrashing of League Two Northampton Town on Tuesday displaying an admirable clarity of thought at pitch level.
Interviews conducted yesterday alluded to the fact that he is preparing to lead that club into the Championship opener at Reading on August 3, and with the field of other prospective managers not tickling the hearts and minds of many Wednesdayites, it could well be up to the 48-year-old to continue his good work and take permanent charge of a club he calls home.
Despite the dwindling time between now and that trip to Berkshire, there has been no indication that the decision on who will replace Bruce will be rushed. Chris Hughton, reportedly approached early on in the melodrama, appears to have turned the opportunity down, preferring to stay down south in wait of a Premier League job.
With the club playing it cool, who else could be in the frame? Gianfranco Zola has carried short odds for several days, but has failed to excite even the most optimistic of supporters. In Gary Rowett, Garry Monk and Aitor Karanka the club could opt for a safe Championship option, but after recent disappointments their CVs are not ringing endorsements.
It would not be a surprise to see Mr Chansiri dip into the foreign market as he has done twice before, of course, hitting the heights with Carlos Carvalhal before an episode with Jos Luhukay better left untold. In appointing Bruce Wednesday took a fork in the road, opting for a popular Brit who’s biggest selling point is that he knows the league. How that would have played out, we’ll never know.
So that leaves Lee. ‘Our Bully’ as he is referred to across the Hillsborough terraces. Highly regarded as a coach, he has operated at first team level under three different Sheffield Wednesday managers, no doubt drinking in their experience every step of the way. Popular with the players every bit as is he with the fans, he offers a simple approach; uncomplicated, no-nonsense and consistent.
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, they say, and in presenting those players with a tunnel through mountains of disruption over this past week, Bullen has ensured there are few broken parts to a Wednesday machine perfectly capable of challenging for the top prizes in this Championship season. It’s been mightily impressive.
Having never held a full-time management position before, Lee Bullen said yesterday that he is ready to lead Sheffield Wednesday in what could be their best opportunities for promotion in many a year. Whether he is worth that punt is up to the chairman.