Put your money on Megson

Sheffield Wednesday's Milan Mandaric greets fans at Hillsborough during the npower Football League One at Hillsbrough, Sheffield.  Photo: PA Wire.

Sheffield Wednesday's Milan Mandaric greets fans at Hillsborough during the npower Football League One at Hillsbrough, Sheffield. Photo: PA Wire.

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There is a roulette wheel spinning at Hillsborough which, instead of numbers, has long borne the names of managers.

There is a roulette wheel spinning at Hillsborough which, instead of numbers, has long borne the names of managers.

Sooner or later one of them is going to hit the jackpot. Put your money on Gary Megson.

Not that it is entirely down to chance - because whoever succeeds in this most taxing of jobs, as eventually someone must, will have earned it.

But timing is everything and you strongly suspect that Megson, as accomplished a manager as any of many appointed by Sheffield Wednesday in their long years of decline, will prove to be the right man at the right time.

He’s certainly on the money, blessed by the sort of financial backing none of the others have enjoyed. Though, in a sense, that only adds to the pressure.

Alan Irvine was unlucky. The irony of the support he was given by Milan Mandaric during the transfer window was that it blew up in his face.

Up to then Wednesday were firmly in the promotion frame, still suffering frustrating blips but shaping up for the second half of the season with a squad that Irvine probably felt needed just two or three key additions.

He ended up with five and was in no position to refuse the invitation. No doubt, though, that the new owner’s backing was well intentioned.

But it all became a touch frantic and it cannot be coincidence that, as Irvine juggled to find his best team, any semblance of form flew out of the window.

Sometimes help can be become a hindrance when instant results are expected. Mandaric seemed to acknowledge that argument when I put it to him on the day Irvine was sacked.

“It’s possible Alan needed more time for these players to gel,” he admitted. “But I didn’t see light at the end of the tunnel, other than a train coming from the other end.”

Both are fair points. Six league games without a win under Mandaric was unacceptable beside the new chairman’s ambitions, as Irvine well knew. He also accepted that the combined events of his 13 months in charge - an avoidable relegation and a failure to take a grip on League One - had put him under pressure.

But Alan is entitled to feel he would have succeeded in the long run. Equally, I believe Mandaric was genuine about wanting the results to justify keeping Irvine, not least perhaps because he didn’t want to play up to his trigger-happy reputation.

Ultimately, the issue probably decided itself. What matters now is that Megson steadies the ship and gets it sailing in the right direction.

To that end, I feel it is in his favour that the transfer window has closed, barring the odd foray on loans. Megson shares Mandaric’s conviction that, thanks largely to Irvine, Wednesday have a good squad for this level.

He brings a freshness to the place and a change of mood that should stimulate players who, in trying almost too hard for Irvine, seemed cowed by the pressure of keeping him in a job.

But they had better shape up because these two managers are chalk and cheese in personality and style. Where Irvine is calm, thoughtful and reserved, Megson doesn’t have ginger hair for nothing. He is fiercely passionate - about the Owls, especially - and not afraid to upset people.

Above all, though, Gary’s record stands for all to see. Early success with Stockport, two promotions into the Premier League with West Brom and keeping Bolton in the top flight. . . that’s top grade material.

If Megson can’t bring Wednesday back to life then you’d think nobody can. Not true, of course, because somebody surely will. And the former Owls midfielder must be a banker bet.