SHEFFIELD WEDNESDSAY: Ron Atkinson bigs up Owls’ Premier potential

Former boss: Ex-Wednesday manager Ron Atkinson is interviewed on TV as the teams walk out last week.'               Picture: Steve ellis
Former boss: Ex-Wednesday manager Ron Atkinson is interviewed on TV as the teams walk out last week.' Picture: Steve ellis
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RON Atkinson, the last manager to take Wednesday to automatic promotion, believes that his former club could be using the Championship only as a stepping stone if they are there next season.

In the longer term they should be aiming for a place in the top 10 of the Premier League, reckons the man who led the Owls to a cup and promotion double in 1991.

“Wednesday could be a top 10 club, with the ground they’ve got, the infrastructure, and the crowd potential,” Big Ron told The Star, hoping the Owls go up tomorrow.

“Some clubs can get into the country’s top 10 and then be fighting for their lives.

“But I would think Wednesday would be getting crowds of over 30,000 if they were up there and would have the basis to stay there.”

Atkinson caught up with his old club at Brentford last Saturday to fulfil a role as a TV analyst.

“They got the job done,” he said.

“Brentford were quite effective. To be fair to Wednesday, they defended resolutely, and they had one or two moments of luck, like you’re always going to need.

“There was good resilience in the team.

“One thing that did surprise me was he size of the team, they’re a big side.”

Always an admirer of flair, Ron admired the goal scored by Keith Tracey - a free-kick that went straight in at the near post.

“I think he did what he meant to do,” he said. “He looked at the scenario, saw that everybody was towards the other side of the goal, and definitely went for it.

“It was a good day for Wednesday, with United not winning. Now they they’ve to keep their nerve and get the job done against Wycombe.”

Big tests of nerve were something to which he was accustomed in his time as Wednesday manager. The Owls went down from the top flight in 1990 when they lost their last game against Nottingham Forest, but the following year they beat Manchester United 1-0 in the League Cup Final at Wembley, and went back up.

Promotion was clinched with a 3-1 home win against Bristol City in the next-to-last match of the season.

“Every game we played was like a big game, in a very competitive league, with teams such as West Ham in it, Ron recalls.

“We were on a mission to bounce back up, and the cup was a bonus.

“I think that if we hadn’t got involved with the cup run, we’d have won the title. We were the best team in the division and we had some very exciting games.”

It was with the happy times in mind, no doubt, that Wednesday fans at Griffin Park sang Atkinson’s name when they spotted him being interviewed for TV in a corner of the pitch.

One to Watch

Striker Stuart Beavon has scored 25 goals in 44 appearances this season. He hit six in six games in March, including a hat-trick against Bury, and was a Player of the Month contender. He has netted in each of Wanderers’ last three games.

History Lesson

Wednesday have never beaten Wycombe at home - but this will be only the second time the teams have met at Hillsborough; they drew 1-1 there in the 2003-04 season. The Owls won 2-1 at Wycombe both in that season and last October.