Why Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dejphon Chansiri has every right to feel disappointed with Steve Bruce over Newcastle United move
As Steve Bruce closes in on becoming Newcastle United's next manager, spare a thought for Dejphon Chansiri.
The Sheffield Wednesday owner turned to promotion expert Bruce after sacking Jos Luhukay last December.
Bruce was appointed as Luhukay’s successor as Owls boss on January 2 but he was not due to take up his post until February 1. Chansiri agreed to delay Bruce's starting date and the former Manchester United defender, who promised his family he would take a break following the loss of both his parents in quick succession in 2018, jetted out to the Carribean to watch the first Test between England and West Indies in the men's cricket.
How many chairman up and down the country would have agreed to Bruce's terms? Not many, in my humble opinion, but Chansiri is unique. He doesn't do things by the book.
Chansiri gave Bruce the green light to add to the club's backroom staff and put his own stamp on the place. Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence, of course, came in and held the fort in Bruce's absence.
Bruce officially started his new role a day early on January 31 and Chansiri straight away freed up some funds for him to strengthen the first-team squad in the transfer window. Dominic Iorfa was signed on a permanent basis from Wolverhampton Wanderers while both Achraf Lazaar and Rolando Aarons arrived on loan from Newcastle United on deadline-day.
Chansiri has also backed Bruce's structural changes off the pitch, splashing the cash on freshening up the training ground and making tweaks to the manager's office at Hillsborough.
Bruce knew when he walked through the door he would not have a lot of money to play with this summer. Given Wednesday are still paying for their scattergun recruitment drive since the 2016 Championship Play-Off final, Bruce acknowledged he would have to "box clever" and use his contacts to bring in out-of-contract players and make Premier League loan signings.
Although Bruce's hands have been tied to some extent by the club's ongoing soft transfer embargo, he has still brought in three new faces in Julian Borner, Moses Odubajo and Kadeem Harris. And he has added ex-Manchester United fitness coach Tony Strudwick to his backroom staff.
Say what you like about Chansiri and his running of the club but no one can dispute the fact that he has always tried to financially support his managers as much as possible.
With Bruce on the brink of leaving after less than six months in charge, it is hard not to feel sorry for Chansiri. Bruce was Chansiri's No 1 choice. Chansiri put all of his eggs in one basket.
Yet despite Newcastle's strong interest in Bruce's services, the majority of Wednesdayites gave him a good reception in their pre-season friendly at Lincoln City on Saturday. Supporters were housed in two stands of the ground at Sincil Bank and they chanted “Steve Bruce’s Barmy Army” at regular intervals in the first half as the Owls established a two-goal lead after strikes from Jordan Rhodes and Adam Reach.
The only real flashpoint came in the ninth minute when one angry fan confronted Bruce in his technical area. The man was booed by his fellow supporters and eventually escorted away by the stewards.
Bruce applauded the fans at the final whistle after the Owls' 3-1 success and posed for a few pictures near the tunnel. But the four-time promotion winner lost a lot of goodwill with the fan-base after confirming in the wake of the Imps warm-up fixture that he has held talks with Newcastle over their vacant managerial position.
It is understandable why the Magpies are an attractive proposition for Bruce. He was born near Newcastle and is a boyhood Magpies fan. Given Bruce is 58, a move to Tyneside potentially represents the last chance he will get to manage in the Premier League and manage his hometown club.
But with less than three weeks to go until the start of the new Championship campaign, Chansiri and the club's fans have every right to feel let down and be disappointed about the situation. Wednesday were heading in the right direction under Bruce and now it appears Chansiri will have to find a replacement at short notice.
It is far from ideal and I don't blame Chansiri in the slightest for holding out for the best compensation package the club can get.