Sheffield Wednesday: Garry Monk or Danny Cowley? Why Owls have picked the right man - Alan Biggs' Column

For all the Garry Monk-versus-Danny Cowley managerial debate ahead of Sheffield Wednesday visiting Huddersfield, this column reckons both clubs have got the right man for their circumstances.

Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 09:44 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 13:23 pm

First, another linking element. One word seemed to bridge the last man to take charge of Wednesday and the one in control for this next game on Sunday.

Coincidental or not, the use of “mentality” by new manager Garry Monk echoed Lee Bullen’s anguished farewell as caretaker boss.

Monk talked at his unveiling of “the mentality you need at a big club like Sheffield Wednesday.”

Huddersfield Town new manager Danny Cowley announced at a press conference at the teams training complex after joining from Lincoln City. Picture Tony Johnson

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Bullen had accused the players in exactly that area following the dismal 2-1 home loss to QPR, which proved more critical in performance than result in ending his hopes of the job.

And few would question that overhauling an ageing squad long in need of freshening would be the major issue facing whoever succeeded Steve Bruce.

However, the timing of Monk’s arrival is similar to Bruce’s last February in that, like his predecessor, the new man has a three or four month wait to materially change things.

Garry Monk was unveiled as Sheffield Wednesday manager on Friday. His first match in charge will be at Huddersfield on Sunday.

To prejudge the squad would be a major tactical error. In the same way, Bruce offered a clean slate up to the summer window. Many responded.

Monk will tap into new manager stimulus up to the January window and, besides, he needs to make an impression on the those fans - a diminishing number given time for reflection - underwhelmed by the sudden, surprise choice of the ex Swansea, Leeds, Middlesbrough and Birmingham boss.

Crucially, I think he has a higher percentage chance of succeeding than, for instance, the Cowley brothers of Lincoln, who were deservedly seriously considered (even offered the job in private, I’m prepared to believe) but would have been new to the level.

Thought I detected an interesting pause on Tuesday when, having asked Danny Cowley to clarify the situation, he said: “There was no contact from Sheffield Wednesday ... to Lincoln City.”

For their part, the presumably unchanged management model at Hillsborough may not have suited the Cowleys, who eventually persuaded Huddersfield to allow them full control of transfers, rightly in my view.

Ideally, Monk can also be hands on. You would hope so, but that is becoming a tired refrain from here and elsewhere. Ultimately, the way the club is run is the owner’s prerogative and nothing said will change that.

As for what constitutes success, for me it is progress and rebuilding, not necessarily promotion. While competing for the play-offs looks achievable, Monk should not be judged on that.

When we spoke, he put it this way: “The ambition is always to go back to the Premier League as fast as possible - as with 15 or 16 other clubs in this league - but in terms of the timeframe it’s about step by step.

“We know there’s a process to go through, as you’ve seen in recent seasons here. But the capability is definitely there.”

To achieve his and the club’s aims, the likelihood is that the one-time Wednesday loanee will have to be in charge longer than at any of his previous clubs.

“I hope so,” is his answer. “That’s what I want. I haven’t met a manager yet who doesn’t go into a job without thinking he’d love to be there over the course of many seasons. But that’s not normally our decision.”

As Monk himself has abruptly discovered. He had respectable win statistics at all his clubs, averaging collectively at almost 40% despite the first tenure, at Swansea, being in the Premier League and the last, at Birmingham, being in much deeper FFP water than anything the Owls have waded through.

“You just have to accept it (the sack) whether you disagree with it or think it’s unfair - and use it as a positive to move forward,” says Monk, a calm, unflustered character, softly spoken but, as a former centre half, no softie.

And how many 40-year-old’s can accurately say this? “I feel like I’m an experienced manager. I’ve had huge experience.

“I know the league well. It’s about using that knowledge, understanding and motivation to do well.”

A consistent line from here is that a preference for Championship experience was stated a week ago when it looked like the Cowleys would get the job. I’m sure Wednesday fans will come together to get behind Monk, starting in opposition to them at Huddersfield.