Sheffield Wednesday: Gray calls for Owls to show home bravery

Game plan: Stuart Gray says that the team must set the tempo
Game plan: Stuart Gray says that the team must set the tempo
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WEDNESDAY must be bold as they bid to boost their home form, says the new coach who has aided their Championship revival.

Stuart Gray has seen the Owls win four league games, draw two and lose only one since he was appointed just before Christmas.

But a Hillsborough defeat against Burnley and a goal-less draw with Wolves in the last home game have been disappointments.

Gray was desperate to put one over on Burnley as he worked for them as first-team coach and caretaker manager.

And the Wolves game bugs him the most because he believes that the Owls came close to virtually an ideal performance - lacking only the finishing touch.

Now as they get set to face successive home games against Brighton and Derby, the 52-year-old believes that Wednesday must be positive and confident:

“We can’t wait for the crowd to get us going: we have to set the tempo and get the crowd going,” he says.

“When teams come to Hillsborough we might have to be brave and get on the ball and give the extra pass, like Jermaine Johnson did for the goal at Charlton. The crowd will always back the players if they’re positive. We’ve got to make it happen.”

Gray reflects that he focused on the basics after being invited by Dave Jones to work alongside coaches Paul Wilkinson and Neil Thompson. “I worked with Dave at Southampton and Wolves; he knows my strengths and weaknesses, and vice versa, probably.

“All my energy is spent on the training ground inside the four lines. I knew Paul and Neil. The most important thing was that we had to hit the ground running.”

When he arrived, the Owls had just beaten Barnsley and ended a run of seven successive defeats.

“I saw the Barnsley game. I just felt we looked far too open. With the ball, we looked a threat; without it, we looked very vulnerable.

“It was a case of getting back to basics, defending and organising. Then after keeping clean sheets you have to move on to the attacking side of it. It was working through things; getting the players to think about their roles. You attack with 11 and defend with 11.

“We dominated certain games but we were getting done on the counter attack or in open play or at a set piece.

“All credit to the lads. The team spirit and work ethic have been fantastic. I’m a believer that you play how you train, and train how you play; if you improve the intensity of training to match pace then it’s little different at three o’clock on a Saturday.”

Gray is pleased that Wednesday have narrowed the gap between themselves and teams above them: “We we have to carry on, keep looking up rather than over our shoulders.”