Sheffield Wednesday: Big Ron pays tribute to '˜phenomenal' Owls fans
Ron Atkinson has hailed Sheffield Wednesday's 'phenomenal' fan-base, claiming they will only aid the club's attempts to climb out of the Championship.
More than 22,000 supporters are expected to flock to Hillsborough today as the Owls look to get back to winning ways against eighth-placed Ipswich Town.
Wednesday currently occupy the final play-off berth with five matches left. It is the Owls’ highest league placing at this stage of a season since they lost their Premier League status 16 years ago.
Speaking at the Class of 91 reunion on Thursday, ex-Wednesday boss Atkinson told The Star: “Sheffield Wednesday are a massive club, but the biggest thing it has got in its locker is that it has phenomenal fans.
“I don’t think there are any better fans in the country than them. They could make all the difference.”
Big Ron’ went on to praise the job Carlos Carvalhal has done in turning the Owls into genuine promotion candidates.
“I don’t know Carlos but he seems to have done very well,” he said. “I keep getting told they are playing really good football. Considering Carlos had never managed in England before, I think he has done a good job.
“The club had lost its way a little bit but now seems like it is on the right track.”
However, Atkinson has warned Wednesday it will become increasingly hard to get out of the second-tier of English football.
He said: “Aston Villa, Newcastle and maybe Sunderland will be coming down. The likes of QPR and Leeds will get stronger so it will be a very difficult year for the big clubs.”
Nearly 1,000 Wednesdayites packed out The Magna Science and Adventure Centre on Thursday night to re-live the key moments from the club’s double-winning success 25 years ago.
Atkinson led them to League Cup glory and helped the Owls gain promotion back to the top-flight at the first time of asking.
David Hirst, John Sheridan, Viv Anderson, Phil King, Chris Turner, Lawrie Madden and Peter Shirtliff all attended the nostalgic evening, which was organised by the Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme.
“It was a terrific night,” said Atkinson. “It was great to see all the old boys.
“People might say ‘it was only the League Cup’ but it meant so much to so many people.
“We had a lot of very good players. We had people with good attitudes. You could see the camaraderie between the players, fans and everybody.
“I led some super teams in my career and I would put that team as high as anything. It was a special group.”
All funds raised will go to the Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme.