Neil Thompson: Steadier of ships and man of the people - Joe Crann’s column
It’s been a crazy month or so at Sheffield Wednesday, but one thing does seem to be certain – Dejphon Chansiri’s decision to fire Tony Pulis and hand the reigns to Neil Thompson seems to be completely justified.
I don’t think anybody, myself included, expected more than a month to have passed following Pulis’ exit without a new boss being appointed, but ‘Thommo’ has managed to make that quite tough to do.
Since Thompson – who has been at Hillsborough for the best part of a decade – took over from Pulis, Wednesday have won five of their seven games, scored eight goals and kept three clean sheets. Looking at the last six games, only three teams have picked up more Championship points.
The mistake has been made in the past of seeing a boost in results and appointing the interim who’s overseen it, but this doesn’t feel like that to me… Wednesday needed the ship steadying, they needed somebody who believed in them, and Thompson’s managed to tick both boxes.
Ask anybody around the club, and you’ll struggle to find anybody with a bad word to say about the former Scarborough and Boston United manager. He’s universally liked, and knows the club better than most due to the roles he’s occupied and time that he’s been there. Everyone wants to play for him.
In recent weeks he’s got backing from the likes of Barry Bannan, Liam Shaw, Liam Palmer, Joost van Aken and Izzy Brown amongst others, and their performances leave no doubt as to whether they’re enjoying playing for him. The results speak for themselves.
So at what point does Chansiri decide that Thompson is or isn’t the right man to take them through until at least the end of the season? You’d like to think it’ll be soon…
‘Thommo’ has held up his end of the bargain, and then some, I reckon. He’s already won as many Championship games as Garry Monk and Pulis combined (four), and he’s done it in five games. That’s some return.
I don’t think there would be many complaining if the chairman decided to tell Thompson, a long-serving member of the team at Hillsborough, that he’d be given until the end of the season, and – based on what we’ve seen so far – there can’t be many people in a better position to keep the Owls in the division.
Of course there’s a key question that he’s not really answered at any stage – does he even want the job? Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t, but the fact remains that his impressive record suggests he may well be the right man for the job.
Only time will tell, of course, and it’s going to be the chairman’s decision at the end of the day, but with every passing game the list of Thommo admirers seems to grow larger.
For now, the schedule is mad. There are seven games to play before February comes to an end, and as things stand it’ll be Thompson overseeing the challenge.
Some clarity would be nice, and not only would it end speculation but it would allow everybody to get behind the man in charge.
Also, ‘Neil Thompson’s Barmy Army’ has a nice ring to it…