Why Sheffield Wednesday ace Sam Hutchinson owes a debt of gratitude to Fulham assistant boss Stuart Gray

There will be a familiar face in the away dugout when the Owls host Fulham tomorrow.

Friday, 20th September 2019, 11:22 am
Updated Friday, 20th September 2019, 1:52 pm

Former Sheffield Wednesday boss Stuart Gray is currently assisting Scott Parker at Craven Cottage.

Gray spent 18 months in charge of the Owls, initially taking over on a caretaker basis following Dave Jones' departure. He was later appointed head coach following an impressive run of results and led Wednesday to safety.

Gray, operating on a modest budget, then guided the Owls to a respectable 13th-placed finish in his one full season in charge of the Championship club.

Ex-Owls head coach Stuart Gray

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But despite stabalising them in the second-tier, Gray was shown the door by chairman Dejphon Chansiri in June 2015.

Gray was the man that brought Sam Hutchinson to S6 and the defensive midfielder will forever owe a debt of gratitude to the 59-year-old.

But Hutchinson insists he and his Wednesday team-mates will be looking to spoil Gray's Hillsborough return this weekend.

"We saw Stuart in Portugal (in the summer)," Hutchinson told The Star. "I got on really well with Stuart. He brought me here and I respect him very much.

"It will be nice to say hello but I won't be concentrating on being friends with anyone. I will just be concentrating on trying to beat Fulham and doing as well as I can for Sheffield Wednesday."

Gray landed the Fulham first-team coaching role in December 2015 and was caretaker manager of the side for five fixtures before Slavisa Jokanovic took over the reins later that month. He worked under the Serbian for a further three years.

After leaving Craven Cottage last summer, Gray returned to the London club early this year to assist Parker.

Hutchinson stressed: "I am grateful that Stuart brought me in, but Stuart left a long time ago.

"I am grateful to everyone who has helped me a long the way and obviously the hard work I have put in as well."

Fulham, relegated from the Premier League last season, have made a mixed start, winning three of their opening seven league fixtures.

But the Cottagers boast a wealth of attacking talent, including Aleksandar Mitrovic, Anthony Knockaert and Ivan Cavaleiro.

Hutchinson said: "They are one of the best, if not the best, team in the Championship.

"Everyone expects them to be up there come the end of the season with the wages they pay and the players they have got.

"They have got good attackers and play a good style of play. They have just got relegated after spending over £100m. If they are not up there, I think there might be some problems."

Ninth-placed Wednesday are two positions higher and a point better off than Fulham in the table.

"They have got great players but we will go out there with no fear and try and implement our style and what we do," said Hutchinson.

"Obviously, they are a great team but every game is different and we always do well against good teams."