Sheffield Wednesday: Why Warnock has been contender

Neil Warnock has a track record as a manager
Neil Warnock has a track record as a manager

Neil Warnock’s association with the Wednesday job should not have come as a surprise, writes Paul Thompson.

He is a Unitedite but to me he has always come across as someone who has a professional respect for the Owls.

Sometimes he seemed to display a mischievous sense of humour. He attracted inevitable digs from Wednesday fans but enjoyed what he regarded as football banter.

I have also heard him talk in complimentary terms about the Owls. Even so, a few years ago I would have dismissed his chances of becoming manager at Hillsborough.

I take you back to January, 2010. Wednesday were without a boss after sacking Brian Laws; Warnock’s employers, Crystal Palace, were near the play-offs but in danger of going into administration.

After Palace won an FA Cup tie at Hillsborough, Warnock was quoted as saying: “Sheffield Wednesday are a big club and I will consider anyone if I’m out of work. If I’d got money, this would be the club I’d buy.”

At that time, it was easy to be dismissive of him, with many fans anti-Neil, and a few days later Alan Irvine got the job.

But after Dave Jones’ inevitable sacking, Wednesday could do with someone with experience: a fighter, a strong character, with proven ability, who knows the Championship and can inspire players.

That description also fits Stuart Gray in broad terms, even if he does not have Warnock’s managerial background.

The priority now is for someone to keep the club up. I do not dismiss the credentials of any of the applicants. But Warnock had to be considered as a serious candidate, whereas in years gone by he would not have been.

The Owls’ worry this time has been that if he was chosen it would still split the fans. That sort of thing happened at Bramall Lane when Danny Wilson was appointed.

The chairman is big on togetherness, everybody pulling in the same direction. I do think that there was a consensus among fans that Jones’ time was up.

Milan Mandaric took the understandable view that something drastic just had to be done in an effort to stave off the threat of relegation.

It would be great for the club if that fine show against Leicester marks the start of a great revival.