MILAN Mandaric is asking Wednesday fans to trust him after axing Gary Megson.
The man who saved the club from administration and appointed Megson to lead a League One revival has retained the thanks and affection of the supporters ever since he took over almost 15 months ago.
The decision of the owner to make a managerial change now is bound to be seen as controversial.
It is a bold decision, maybe a gamble.
If a new man comes in and leads the club to promotion then Mandaric will be a hero again and the decision to get rid of Megson will be just another chapter in the Owls’ colourful history.
If the change does not work then last night’s news will be seen in a different light.
Clearly the chairman knows that his action will not be popular with some fans, especially after Sunday’s derby. A fine win was recorded against United, fans chanted Megson’s name and players celebrated with him.
The squad, more than anyone, are likely to be shocked. He was a popular manager, liked for his honesty.
But from day one, when Megson was appointed in February of last year, I wondered whether one day day there could be a personality clash between chairman and manager.
Both are strongwilled and have their opinions about the game. Mandaric has a track record of impatience towards managers. Megson is a man who speaks his mind.
It seems clear that, particularly in the last few weeks, they did not see eye to eye.
If the team were winning every week then maybe personalities would not come into it.
Mandaric’s referral to the influence on his decision of results before the derby probably refers to the fact that the Owls had picked up only eight points from eight league games before they beat United.
But Megson believed that the team were unfortunate in the recent run of three successive league defeats, and an improvement could be made. It came in the derby.
Over many months, Megson has believed that on the whole the club were doing well considering the circumstances, He often referred to the reliance on loans - 12 during his reign. In an article in The Star to mark his first anniversary, he said that the club had spent £535,000 on players and brought in £400,000 through sales.
He was disappointed to have missed out on certain players, for example Neil Mellor and Adam Le Fondre last summer, and Ben Marshall in January - he also did not want James O’Connor to leave during that transfer window.
Mandaric, on the other hand, argues that he has given the manager sufficient support, and he clearly feels that the club must be challenging more strongly for promotion.
The chairman regards it as very important that the club go up this season - and he hates play-offs, having suffered in those during his time at Leicester.
Megson shared the promotion ambition. A passionate fan of the club as well as their manager, he believed that he and Wednesday should be judged in the light of other clubs who have at some time or other invested heavily in players: United, Huddersfield and Charlton, with the division’s leaders having brought in more than 20 players.
Wednesday’s recent run saw their challenge for automatic promotion falter; clearly Mandaric felt the alarm bells were ringing, barely muffled by the derby.
Maybe it did not help Megson’s cause when the sacking of Lee Clark by Huddersfield showed that being in a challenging position did not guarantee security for a League One manager.
Rumours of a deteriorating relationship between Megson and Mandaric reached a peak with the extraordinary story at the weekend which claimed that Megson had complaining to the League Managers Association about Mandaric interviewing candidates for his job while he was still in it.
Wednesday were five points off the relegation zone when Megson was appointed.
Today they are third in the table and he leaves them in a better state than when he arrived.
His successor’s task will be to try to finish the job he started.
Sense of disbelief after manager is axed
First there was a sense of disbelief, then my Twitter timeline went into meltdown.
Had they really done it? Had Gary Megson, the hero of the Kop after Sunday’s victory over his most bitter rivals, really been sacked.
Official confirmation from the club came through seconds later.
Truthfully, it was no real surprise.
Reading between the lines of interviews, tweets, sightings, maybe meetings and the vibe that you pick up when you just ‘know’ something is going to happen.
On first reflection it seems an extremely odd decision. No need to talk through the stats of how many matches left, league position and all that.
The oddest thing is that Wednesday are crying out for stability. I mean, really crying out.
Pushed from pillar to post in recent memory through a succession of managers and chairman it seemed as though the club was just settling down.
And then came the social media eruption - the anger, the questions, the downright disappointment that such a good feeling could be ripped away by the one man who had saved Sheffield Wednesday.
‘In Milan we trust’ has been uttered many times over the past year and a bit.
If Mr Mandaric wanted to put Owls fans trust to the test, then he’s set what is, at the moment, an unfathomable puzzle.
BY RICHARD FIDLER