Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk gives his verdict on Nathan Jones and Stoke City

Most observers would probably have viewed Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough duel with Stoke City as a home banker three weeks ago.

Monday, 21st October 2019, 3:38 pm
Updated Monday, 21st October 2019, 9:46 pm
Stoke City manager Nathan Jones

Potters boss Nathan Jones looked then on the brink of the sack after seeing his side fall to the bottom of the Championship following a defeat to relegation rivals Huddersfield Town.

But despite Jones' miserable record in charge, Stoke's owners ignored calls to relieve him of his duties. They remained behind Jones and their faith has been rewarded as Jones has guided the club to back-to-back victories over promotion contenders Swansea City and Fulham.

Tyrese Campbell, the son of former Arsenal and Everton striker Kevin, grabbed his first league goal for the Potters and a late Lee Gregory penalty helped Jones' side secure a first home win since March at the expense of the Cottagers.

Sign up to our Sheffield Wednesday newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Stoke's improved run of form has raised spirits at the Bet365 Stadium and eased the intense pressure on Jones, who was appointed in January after leaving Luton Town.

In recent weeks, Jones has given a series of remarkable post-match interviews which appeared to suggest he was either about to resign or be axed.

But rather than feel sorry for himself or walk away from the challenge, Jones has knuckled down and turned Stoke's fortunes around.

His rejuvenated squad head to South Yorkshire knowing a third straight win could lift them out of the relegation zone.

Garry Monk, the Owls manager, told The Star: "As colleagues, you don't want to see any manager suffering or being in difficult situations.

"I think a big testament to them (Stoke) is the amount of time and patience they have given to the manager and that's how it should be. They (the board) should have that patience and that's how we feel as managers but, of course, we understand in the industry we are in it's an exception what he [Jones] is going through compared to a lot of other situations.

"I can't focus on him and his situation. That's not my priority. My priority is to focus on us and get ready for the game.

"We will watch a lot of their games and try and approach the game as best we can."

Despite their mini revival, Jones has won just five of his 32 league matches since replacing Gary Rowett.

Monk added: "Everyone goes through their own situations and you sympathise when other managers go through tough times but the main thing is to focus on ourselves."

Stoke may be languishing in the lower reaches of the division, but Monk is refusing to underestimate them.

"You have seen it many times in the Championship where any team on any given day can beat anyone," insisted Monk. "Like any Championship game, we have to be ready, focused and try and impose ourselves.

"We have to be on the front foot. We will concentrate on ourselves and not worry about the other team in terms of the situation they are in.

"I am not really focused on them. It is more about what we do.

"Of course, we pay attention to the strengths that the opposition has but it is more about us imposing our game plan."

Monk is likely to stick with the 4-1-4-1 formation that Wednesday employed in Friday's draw at Cardiff City. The Owls have played a number of different systems since Monk's appointment but the former Swansea City defender has favoured that set up in the last two outings.

Monk said: "I have said from the start that I want us to be adaptable. It is not experimenting.

"I know what I want to do with the team and I know what I think the strengths are of the team and how we set up. It is not chopping and changing. It is doing what I think is right for that particular game.

"We have already used a couple of systems but it is not that we are experimenting. We have shown we can be adaptable when we need to be and that is the work we have done from the start and we will continue that going forward."

On his team having extra time to recover and prepare compared to Stoke, Monk said: "It is good that we have had an extra day's recovery. It is difficult when it is Saturday-Tuesdays.

"We will try and use the extra day to recover and be fresh and ready to go against Stoke. They are all tough games and physically demanding (in this league)."