Megson’s changes stem from thorough planning

Surprise recall: Clinton Morrison started the win over Tranmere
Surprise recall: Clinton Morrison started the win over Tranmere
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NO match between Wednesday and Charlton goes by without me thinking of the best own goal I have ever seen.

It came from Charlton’s Steve Gritt at Hillsborough in the early 80s.

The Owls launched a long ball towards the box at the Kop end; as it dropped, Gritt hooked a spectacular, long-range volley into the top corner.

Wednesday won 5-4.

The odds are against a similar score tomorrow, obviously, but who would have predicted a 4-4 draw against Huddersfield, when the Owls last faced one of their main promotion rivals?

The thrill of the unexpected is one of football’s joys. However, guarding against every eventuality, and meticulous planning to ensure everything goes as you want it to, is part of a manager’s job. Take Wednesday and their last two games.

Gary Megson did not just select Clinton Morrison on a whim when the striker earned a surprise recall for the home match against Tranmere on Monday, January 2.

Megson had told Morrison he would be playing even before the Owls had faced Preston away on January 31.

The manager had been impressed by the striker in training and wanted him to provide fresh legs plus his knowhow in the second game in three days.

With the striker on four bookings, the manager did not want him to pick up a fifth at Preston, which would have meant him being suspended for the visit of Tranmere. December 31 was the final day when players could be suspended for reaching five cautions.So Morrison was not even on the bench at Deepdale. He was in against Tranmere and had a fine game.

“Top drawer,” was Megson’s verdict on him.

But the West Ham match brought different demands again.

Megson wanted to guard against the formidable threat of Kevin Nolan but could not be sure he would be playing. That was a main factor in the surprise choice of Jermaine Johnson, with Sanchez Watt ineligible and both Morrison and Ryan Lowe on the bench.

Why? The Owls boss’s 11 provided options. If Nolan played, in his usual role behind a front two, then Reda Johnson would move from left back to a defensive role in front of the back four; Julian Bennett would play left back, and JJ would have to help out in a wider role on the left, rather than playing as an out-and-out striker alongside Chris O’Grady.

JJ’s ability to play up front or out wide was key: Megson could not really have used Lowe or Morrison on the wing.

If Nolan did not play - which is what happened - then it was Reda remaining at left back, Bennett coming in on the left side of midfield, and JJ up front. Morrison played well as a sub.

It must be a fine dividing line sometimes, when a manager has to plump between horses for courses and almost disregarding the opposition to do his own thing.

Megson would have looked a bit of a chump if, knowing how good Nolan is, he had done nothing about it and the goalscoring midfield star had turned out to be the match-winner.