Sheffield Wednesday: Gray: ‘My debt to Clough’

Happy Owls boss Stuart Gray
Happy Owls boss Stuart Gray
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Sheffield Wednesday boss Stuart Gray has revealed how Brian Clough played a significant role in his development as a coach.

Gray made the admission ahead of tomorrow lunch-time’s televised clash with his old club Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough.

The Owls chief was a young left back or midfield player on Forest’s books when the club won the old First Division title and the European Cup twice under Clough.

Gray played for Forest between 1977 to 1984 before joining Barnsley. “I probably worked with one of the best managers ever in football in Brian,” said Gray. “It was a great education.

“I worked with him and Graham Taylor, who was totally opposite to Brian. Graham was more organised and delegated jobs to people.

“At Forest, you had to make your own decisions when you played. Where Brian taught me well was in making the right decisions on the pitch. If you didn’t make the right decisions, you tended to get dragged off or left out of the team!”

Clough died from stomach cancer at the age of 69 nearly a decade ago, having won league titles with Derby County and Forest.

Gray continued: “I learned a lot from Brian’s style of management. I picked up different bits from him, Graham Taylor and Glenn Hoddle, who I’ve worked with twice before.”

Although he has happy memories of his time at the City Ground, Gray insisted: “They are a good football club but that’s all in the past now. I would love to get one over them like I did against Burnley the other night.”

The Wednesday boss, meanwhile, quashed speculation linking him with loan moves for Sunderland’s Danny Graham and Manchester United defender Marnick Vermijl.

“Agents are being a little bit crafty,” said Gray. “They are either making contact with me or members of my staff and offering players to come out on loan.

“He [Marnick] is a talented boy but I have Liam Palmer, Lewis Buxton and Tom Lees who can play in that position. It’s not an area I want to strengthen.”

A new centre-back, winger and striker remain top of Gray’s priority list.

He conceded: “We need a wide player. We need to keep Jacques Maghoma and Chris Maguire on their toes. Jeremy [Helan] did well when he came against Burnley. We want that healthy competition.”

Gray said the transfer market is “very competitive” at Championship level.

He said: “The players who have moved from Chelsea are ones who we have all been watching. We are all looking at the same players. You are relying on favours from clubs with the players and the wages. Some of these Premier League youngsters are earning absolute fortunes. It’s them getting out of their comfort zone and wanting them to learn their trade.”

Although Gray hopes Wednesday’s healthy league position will encourage players to move to Hillsborough on a temporary basis, he fears young starlets are not as hungry to play as they used to be.

“Sometimes the league table can help you get players through,” he said. “I just worry that not enough lads want to get out and play regular first-team football. They are probably getting too much, too soon instead of being hungry.

“We are giving them the opportunity to come and play. It’s the best job in the world but the worrying thing is that a lot of players are becoming social footballers. They want to train Monday to Friday and don’t want to play on a Saturday and get out of their comfort zones.”