Sheffield Wednesday are scrapping their reserve side in aiming to run a leaner, meaner squad next season, writes Alan Biggs.
Manager Gary Megson also reveals today that his out-of-contract players have been told they will not be made any offers “until after the final ball has been kicked.”
He said: “We’re trying to keep our powder dry so it doesn’t affect results and performances.
“I know what I want to do in terms of new players and the size of the squad.
“It’s not necessarily about names, it’s about characteristics.”
The hunger Megson will demand from recruits also applies to the club’s younger players who will have a first-team target in future rather than stepping up via the reserves.
And the decision to ditch the second-string will put the focus on in-house training for seniors displaced from the side.
“We’ll be getting rid of the reserve team,” said the Owls boss. “In a few years there won’t be a reserve league; it’s not as it used to be.
“When I first started it would be full of pros not in the first team. Now it’s a glorified youth team, which puts too much emphasis on young players. In future, we’ll arrange our own games behind closed doors.”
Megson, heading for relegation-threatened Bristol Rovers this weekend, makes no apologies for relentlessly repeating his basic expectation of effort and honesty from his players - having seen “the penny start to drop” in a sustained revival.
“The perception of football clubs from the outside is that everybody is always bang at it,” he said. “I’ve been in the game a long time - would that that were true.”
Megson admits that decisions have been formulated on the players he wants to keep. Indeed, he has confirmed that an offer will be made to Jermaine Johnson.
The winger is not short of admirers and promoted Chesterfield, where John Sheridan keeps a close eye on the Hillsborough scene, are understood to be monitoring Johnson’s situation.
It’s easy to see why Johnson is not automatically thought of as a Megson-type player. He can be erratic and inconsistent. But the Owls boss recognises that, for sheer pace, power and trickery, the 30-year-old Jamaican remains a rare commodity in the lower leagues.
Overall, the upheaval may not be as great as first anticipated. Megson has also spoken highly of Tommy Miller, James O’Connor and Lewis Buxton, three of the other soon-to-be-free agents.
If all are offered fresh terms, as seems likely, defender Richard Hinds could become the odd man out. Then again, the players a manager might want to jettison are not necessarily those out of contract and Wednesday are loaded with several January signings for whom Megson would presumably be open to bids.