Writer: Chris Mace
Date:Tuesday March 13 2012
To say being a Wednesday fan is never dull is a bit of an understatement after the last fortnight. Who could have predicted that we would not only win the Steel City Derby, but that we'd then sack Megson, appoint a successor within 48 hours, get a disappointing draw away, then two superb results at home all the while teams around us were dropping points!
I can't start this article without mentioning our departing manager, and the great respect so many Wednesday fans will always have for him. After first becoming aware of Megson when he successfully managed West Brom, (I'm too young to remember him playing, and my Dad is an Albion fan!) I always felt that he would manage us one day. Most football players and managers have a strong tie to one particular club, but it did seem more than that with Megson. And so many fans were rightfully upset at his sacking because he was one of us - and that's why it hurt so much that he was gone.
In the 12 years since we dropped out of the Premier League we've only finished in the top 10 of any table on two occasions: (9th under Laws in 2007 and 5th under Sturrock in 2005). We've become used to just being rolled over easily, almost to the point that there have been times where there is a nervous air of negative expectation at Hillsborough.
At the start of last season, everyone expected a good push for promotion, but disaster after Christmas left us with another finish towards the bottom. Megson made us solid, hard to beat, well organised and awkward to play against. This time 12 months ago we'd slipped to the bottom half of the table and had suffered several crushing defeats, yet this year under Megson we've only lost the odd game by the odd goal (Stevenage away aside!).
I've been asked so many times this season by friends and colleagues the question: 'So how's Megson doing?' My answer has been the same every time: 'He's doing a superb job.' The football we've played is certainly not going to win awards, and it did hurt slightly when Unitedites made disdainful comments about our negative football, especially when you consider the way some of their managers have played over the last 10 years (Blackwell, Warnock and Adams in particular).
I was content with the fact that we were playing 3rd division football and if it brought us promotion I wasn't going to complain. At times though, it has been extremely effective. The last 15 minutes at the Lane where we rescued a point and the demolition of Huddersfield (between the 20th and 80th minutes!) are examples of times where we've dominated the top teams in the division. Equally though there have been times where it's been ugly and hasn't paid off. Bury away sticks out in my mind where our one dimensional play was dealt with effectively and we couldn't get ourselves back into the game. Very rarely though have we been beaten because we`ve been out fought and out worked - it's usually been a lack of quality at the back or up front.
What Megson built was a club with a real feeling that it was going their way for the first time in over a decade. A club that could achieve, win matches, get promoted and become 'great' again. Megson started us on that path and he'll be forever loved because of that. How many managers can lead a club for a year before being sacked, yet still have a special place in the fans hearts. When Megson inevitably returns to Hillsborough, no doubt managing the opposition, I'll be the first on my feet to applaud him and welcome him home.
So the big question is, was Mandaric right to sack Megson? I just can't answer that question right now. It's pretty clear that before the derby result, we've been struggling for at least 6 weeks (longer depending on your viewpoint), and with this in mind Mandaric has decided that something needs to be done.
Time will tell if Dave Jones is right for the job and as a fan I'll be behind him fully and I genuinely hope he is a long term success at S6. Not many managers take over a club who are in a play off place with an outside chance at an automatic spot, have the top attendances in the division, an excellent home record, good squad and a financially supportive chairman. As a result, expectations are high. Jones has got 2 months to get us up, or we've got to do it all again, something none of us really want.
Date:Tuesday March 13 2012
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