Former Sheffield Wednesday forward Shefki Kuqi backs former teammate Garry Monk and stresses importance of top six finish
Former Sheffield Wednesday striker Shefki Kuqi has backed Garry Monk’s appointment as manager, saying his brief experience of the club gives him a head start when it comes to achieving a promotion push.
The 62-cap Finland international, who applied for the job but was told the club were looking for a more experienced alternative, was at Hillsborough when a young Monk joined the club on a short-term loan from Southampton.
Some years later Kuqi played under his captaincy at Swansea City, and he believes the 40-year-old has what it takes to steer the Owls towards a top six finish.
He told the Star: “He’s got such a good group of players at Sheffield Wednesday and he did brilliantly last season at Birmingham.
“There’s no doubt he’s got a better squad now than he had then and he took Birmingham close to the play-offs last season before they got the points deduction.
“Anything outside the top six for Sheffield Wednesday is a disappointing season. This is a very good group of players they have.”
Kuqi said he remembers a quiet and unassuming young defender arriving through the doors at Wednesday midway through a doomed 2002/03 season that saw them relegated to the third tier of English football.
It was a chastening experience, the Finn believes, that will be of huge advantage to Monk in the coming weeks.
“He’s done well at other clubs but things change when you go to a different club,” he said. “You have different supporters, different expectations, everything changes. And that is a challenge for any manager.
“Sheffield Wednesday is one of the biggest clubs in the UK and there is always demand, it doesn’t matter whether that’s in the Premier League, the Championship or League One.
“He’s played there and he understands the club and the situation a little, which is good for him.”
Kuqi finished that season as the Owls’ top scorer and left for Ipswich Town. It would be seven years before he would once again share a changing room with Monk, by then the captain of Swansea.
Reporting that he was by now still quiet but more composed in his nature, Kuqi says by then Monk had the aura of a man cut out for management.
“He was a thinker. He wasn’t always the loudest in the changing room and was a quiet captain sometimes, but he always had respect from the players and he was a good guy.
“I obviously haven’t been in a changing room with him as a manager, I don’t know whether he’s an angry or a calm type, but I watched his Birmingham side play last season and he did well with them.
“I think he will do well.”