Problems, Problems… Always Problems
Vital SWFC forum member YorkySWFC gives us his views on the current state of play at S6.
Don't you just love analogies! I know I do, especially when I need to put over an important point. It's an ideal time to use an analogy to offer some opinions about what's happening at Sheffield Wednesday right now.
I know you're very disheartened by recent results and, understandably, many are already calling for the head of Brian Laws as a solution to the recent run of bad results. But is this really the answer? History has proved time and again that dismissing the manager, especially at Hillsborough, isn't the answer. Could we even afford to let Brian Laws go? So lets use the analogy I mentioned.
If we consider the hierarchy at Sheffield Wednesday as simply Chairman, Manager, Captain and then the players, we can compare this chain of command to another - say, Engineering Manager, Project Manager, Lead Engineer and then Commissioning Engineers. I choose this analogy simply because being a Lead Engineer myself, and a 'Captain' of a team of engineers, I'm very familiar with this structure and I can see some similarities. I'm very aware of its strengths and weaknesses.
First of all, neither the chairman nor the manager perform, or 'do the business' on the pitch. It's the responsibility of the team itself to win games, to score goals, to prevent goals. To use my analogy, it's the team of commissioning engineers whose performance on site will result in successful running of the machine or failure to complete to specifications.
The manager's role and responsibilities are basically selecting the players, and dictating what tactics are necessary using those players to get the desired results. He does more than that, obviously, but that's the essence of it.
As for the captain's role, he is the organizer on the field, he is the kingpin of control and he should be able and willing to dictate the manner in which his team are playing. Here's another analogy, from the movie 'Gladiator'. Remember how Maximus rallied his fellow gladiators during their first appearance in Rome's coliseum? He used his strength of character and leadership to unify a normally disbanded group of individuals - and as the movie's Emperor enquired when Maximus succeeded, 'I thought the Barbarians were supposed to lose!!'. Therefore a captain's role is extremely important and one of proven leadership - and having a good captain can pay dividends when organising a team.
Returning to the manager's role, I was hoping to spend more time analysing your feedback regarding my poll 'Who was the best manager in the last 50 years' in the Vital SWFC forum. However, the information already gathered answers some of the questions raised above. It was quite clear that the three favoured managers were Jack Charlton, Ron Atkinson and Trevor Francis. Let's look at why these managers were considered successful and I think we might begin to understand why we are so troubled lately.
Firstly, what is it that made them so successful? Was it because of the silverware they won for the club? Was it because of the league championships they won? Or was it because the team under their charge simply won more games?
Your responses were quite concise: the majority of you emphasised these managers introduced attractive football to Hillsborough and more importantly, they installed a high measure of confidence in the team's ability to win repeatedly, regardless of the opposition.
Not only did they have a certain amount of charisma (especially Charlton and Atkinson) and they were definitely motivators, but they demonstrated their ability in picking the right man to enforce their tactics on the playing field too. Another thing to mention is that I doubt very much that either Jack Charlton or Ron Atkinson would have tolerated any influence by a Chairman!
As for other managers of note, when Brian Clough first took charge of a Nottingham Forest team which had been repeatedly losing all its games, the very first thing he told them was that they had makings of a great team. Initially, he didn't sign any new players but the rest is history. Gary Megson had a very short and unsuccessful reign at the same club and yet the next manager was immediately successful with the same group of players.
Finally, as one post I recently read mentioned (I'm of the same opinion), we are in need a worthy captain - a 'Maximus' if you like - someone who can make the players gel together and play like a team. Charlton chose a defender called Pickering: he wasn't gifted in any way - he wasn't even smart - but he held the reins from the back. And with later addition of Sterland, Pearson and Megson, we more than held our own against the big teams. With Big Ron it was a good combination of Nilsson, Anderson, Sheridan and Palmer that did the trick,and what a team they were too.
I am not saying that Brian Laws is or isn't the right manager for Sheffield Wednesday, merely that there's more to this club's success than making extortionate journeys into the transfer market or simply sacking the manager when something goes wrong.
However, something has to be done, if only to restore some confidence in the team and stop the imminent slide, or we shall be visiting Elland Road once again next season.
So, what's the conclusion? Although I don't condone dismissing Brian Laws, he is nevertheless in thrall to Dave Allen and this controlling influence cannot be good for the club. But we do need to identify the problems with the playing staff before we throw any damning statements at the management of those same staff.
And…we need to do it quickly!!