Sheffield Wednesday: Stu warns Owls over Cup test

Stuart Gray is focusing on the Rochdale game
Stuart Gray is focusing on the Rochdale game
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Stuart Gray refuses to bask in the pleasure of being chosen as Wednesday’s new manager, insisting: “We’ve achieved nothing yet.”

He would rather focus on the FA Cup test at Rochdale tomorrow than his personal fortunes, now that he is to be officially confirmed as team boss, probably today.

Gray also targets a continued climb up the Championship table and will start to prepare for Tuesday’s game at Millwall as soon as the Spotland tie is over.

It was a buoyant Gray who met the media at the Owls training ground yesterday, knowing that the job is his and probably summing up the mood of the club and fans with his remark: “I think everyone wants it (the manager issue) to be put to bed.

“Things have gone well. The players deserve all the credit. It’s players who end up getting you the job.

“Once it’s formally announced, we can concentrate of moving up the table, getting as many points as possible, strengthening the team and hopefully carrying on the good form we have been in.”

For the first time he admitted to being “probably disappointed” when he was not given the job after the 6-0 win against Leeds, and when he wondered what he had to do, but he was happy to be patient: “At the end of the day, the chairman had his reasons.

“It will be a relief when the ‘i’s have been dotted and the ‘t’s crossed and I’ve put my signature where it needs to be put.

“It’s a fantastic club. You just look at what managers have been here in the past. The chairman has had three managers here (Alan Irvine, Gary Megson and Dave Jones); hopefully I’ll be the fourth and in place for a long while.”

He said the discussions on the length of contract were taking place.

Lee Bullen’s role has yet to be defined, with the development squad coach having been helping Gray with the first team, but Gray has told Milan Mandaric what he would like regarding staff, and this will be announced in due course.

The club failed in an attempt to bring in one of their striker targets in time for tomorrow’s game. Billy Sharp was one of three on whom they missed out.

“Fingers crossed again,” Gray said. “Once my position has been clarified, maybe that will help.

“The pleasing things is that Sheffield Wednesday is a more attractive position now because of where we are in the league.

“But we’ve achieve nothing yet.

“We’ve got to keep grabbing points, and we want to get into the fifth round of the Cup.”

Gray believes that the team will benefit tomorrow from having played at Macclesfield’s humble ground, and he will use the possible pitfalls of the cup as a spur to the players.

He said: “I can say ‘look, remember those last 20 minutes at Macclesfield; we let the crowd wake up, we didn’t put it to bed’.

“Our players will be prepared, organised, and at it.”

He could also urge the players to avoid the sort of scare they suffered in the replay, when they led with a goal from Chris Maguire then had to overcome a Silkmen fightback.

Wednesday “had a go” at Burnley last week by blooding Caolan Lavery in a 4-4-2 but may revert to the usual away formation of 4-5-1.

A similar tactic in the previous tie at Macclesfield worked well, with Stephen McPhail coming in take midfield ticking over.

Gray says: “Stephen hasn’t played much recently but I know I can put him into certain games where we can get the ball down and play a bit more. He’s a valuable member of the squad.”

Giles Coke, too, is in contention after recovering from injury, Damian Martinez must be expected to play again, and Joe Mattock may well stay in with this game a little early for Reda Johnson after his hip injury.