Dave Jones and Danny Wilson both stand for the finer things in football. But watch their teams right now and you’ll know it’s only about one thing: Getting the job done.
How doesn’t matter too much this side of the law. Which is why everyone in football should avoid that irritating habit of decrying visiting teams who “get everyone behind the ball.”
Pots and kettles, anyone? There’s a bit too much piety in the game when it suits. It’s been a common complaint at Bramall Lane, though in fairness Wilson has made it as an observation rather than a whinge. He respects it as the means to a result, accepting that the onus is on his side to crack a recurring problem. How the game’s played does matter, of course, and we should all welcome the trend towards better technique and a passing style.
Wilson’s Blades are trying to stick with that even if their meagre goal tally suggests otherwise. Jones and Wednesday are being more pragmatic.
Readers here will also know my view that, in general, it’s rubbish when managers trot out that “results are more important than performances” because, as a rule, you need the latter to get the former.
But right now, at the business end, it does happen to carry some truth. Human nature kicks in and kicks out those finer feelings.
Except at Barnsley, it seems, where I had the pleasure of witnessing their pure and sublime outplaying of Leicester on Monday. Remarkable stuff.
For most others at either end of any table it’s about eking out results on poor pitches deprived of warmth, sunlight and growth. United are trying to play on regardless at Bramall Lane while Wednesday have made adjustments for an equally bobbly and barren Hillsborough. Ironically, I think the Owls are currently far more direct than anything they served up under Gary Megson who was falsely labelled in that regard.
But Jones was tactically spot-on in his Gary Madine-led exposure of Barnsley’s lack of height last weekend.
Then again, this is not the style of Jones’ repute and the way he’d want to play. In the end, it amounts to getting results the best way you can.
Crafty Dave may make Rovers stew
I said it last week and I’ll say it again - Blackburn Rovers’ chicken farmers have served up the perfect recipe to relegate a talented and lavishly paid team into League One.
Another stir of the pot at Hillsborough on Saturday and the plot will thicken. It’s a big game for Sheffield Wednesday to win and in the process strike a blow for proper football ownership. And of the foreign variety, too.
There was a time when nobody ever thought that would be said about Milan Mandaric!
And speaking of the Owls, there was a crafty little comment from Dave Jones in his post-match media conference last weekend.
“I have to pick the team before a game... you can pick it afterwards,” quipped Jones on the difference between him and us.
Got me thinking, too, that those who focus on his supposedly monotone delivery often miss what a wily media operator he is.
Jones did, I feel, put an over-positive spin on the the Owls’ vital derby win over Barnsley when he said it was “very well deserved” but then who can blame any manager these days for playing the percentages when they are in his favour?
Where Jones also scores with his experience and phlegmatic nature is that generally he doesn’t get too high in victory or too low in defeat.
The mood around the place stays pretty level.
Paolo job is canny gamble for cash
Method or madness? No, in the end it is money that dictated Sunderland’s enormous gamble on Paolo Di Canio, pictured above, in the face of a furore over whether he is a fascist.
A £3 billion Premier League TV deal kicks in next season. Maybe the appointment is not so crazy.
Four weeks of Di Canio - if he lasts that long - could well be enough to outstrip Sunderland’s outlay on a two-year contract that there is surely little chance of him serving.
The former Hillsborough star will make an impact, all right. I think he’ll do the job - for now. And that’s all anyone seems to want these days!
Master of spin will bounce back
Neil Warnock would have been a brilliant PR man had he not become a football manager. Take the spin he put on his inevitable departure from Leeds United this week.
Sacked? Oh no. Warnock has been working for weeks to turn the story completely around. Truth be told, he was under severe pressure almost from the GFH takeover. I heard talk in mid-season of an email warning that performances were “unacceptable.”
But the owners were rabbits in the media headlights compared to Warnock who quickly let it be known he wouldn’t be wanting to stay if Leeds fell short of promotion and revealed he was advising on a successor.
Instead of the agenda being about the former Blades boss facing the axe, it was he who was timing his own exit. But there is something Warnock is even better at than spin and that - despite all those retirement hints heard times over - is achieving success as a manager.
Loads will be tempted by his availability and I’ll bet he finds something to tempt him, too.