"They're given everything": Garry Monk opens up on the culture change needed at Sheffield Wednesday
There’s been a lot of talk this season about what needs to change at Sheffield Wednesday.
It won’t be an easy transition, supporters have been warned, but it’s one that has to happen. And 10 months into his reign at Hillsborough Garry Monk has made clear he is the man to pull the club kicking and screaming into – how he puts it – ‘a better day’.
Honest post-match press conferences after shocking defeats at Wigan and Brentford are the most notable examples of Monk’s slamming of a changing room culture that he says has long gone stale.
And the work in shifting this culture has already begun. A raft of senior players have been moved on and a matter of days on from the opening of the transfer window, attention is turning to who will be brought into the club to build the ‘young, hungry, dynamic’ feel Monk has so often spoken about.
Speaking to The Star ahead of the penultimate match of a torrid campaign, a trip to promotion-chasing Fulham, the Owls boss explained that he feels he and his coaching staff have already made strides in adjusting the mentality of the changing room and that while perhaps it was more of an issue at Wednesday than he had seen before, it is a problem across football.
“The modern generation now, that accountability and responsibility is not so much there anymore,” he said. “I think it's football's problem that it’s created. We talk about academies and things like that where everything is done for them and they're given everything.
“It's not that they don't work hard, but when you're given everything and you're given rewards for not achieving or winning games or trophies or awards or whatever you deem to be success, I’ve seen for many, many years that young players are being rewarded without even playing a first team game.
“They're given contracts a first-team player will have or a first team player in the lower league might have worked seven years for and doesn't even have that contract.
“The rewards these days in football are much higher for achieving less and I think when you have that as a culture that need to be better is not quite there, because you have your contract, you have your reward and you don't need to go and achieve those things. That's a problem across football.”
Big name players on big contracts are among the players to have left Sheffield Wednesday in recent weeks and there is a feeling that the club is finally preparing to shake off the hangover of successive failed playoff campaigns in 2016 and 2017.
Wednesday have been linked with a handful of players at the outset of their careers and this week Monk acknowledged the club’s attempts to bring 19-year-old Manchester City starlet Fisayo Dele-Bashiru to the club ahead of next season. The move represents a change in the way the club have done business in recent times.
The Star understands that negotiations with the Premier League giants are complete and should the deal be completed, the Wednesday boss believes Dele-Bashiru will already be walking into an improved changing room culture from the one that saw his side crumble at the turn of the year.
In the seven games since lockdown Wednesday have won two and drawn two, but have played with an improved style and performance level Monk says is indicative of the changes he is trying to implement.
“When I came in here my first eight home games we were unbeaten. We were strong, consistent and then came the drop-off,” he said.
“That side of it there, the mentality when it becomes difficult, I've already talked about that period and how there were a lot of things that weren't right.
"We’ve used this period not just to finish the season but it's about putting work in place to strengthen that mentality and culture and all those things. It's a massive part of any football team, that resilience side of it.
“They've come back stronger. Their resilience levels are stronger. They're not quite where they can be or where we want them to go, but we've taken a step forward in that way.
“I've got a good idea on certain things we can work on that can help the players increase that resilience level and performance level in terms of the football we want to play. That also comes with recruitment and all that side of it. I can't wait.
That daily battle to be the best is one shown by top Premier League clubs, Monk said, and having tasted some of that culture during his time at Swansea and having latterly spoken to coaches and studied time in that environment since, it’s an elite mentality he wants to build at S6.
He said: “At the top end it's different because they're huge rewards. Their mentality is different, they want to win things, win trophies, earn rewards, it's a different kettle of fish you're dealing with.
“That's the mentality and culture that I want to get towards. And it's not just at this club, a lot of managers that I speak to, we speak after games and all of that, these are the chats that I have with managers.
“New players coming in can have that hunger to show that as well. That improves the ones that are already here as well because they want to go with it and show those players they can do it as well. That's what we're trying to create.”