Alan Biggs: Turner role is good business

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Which of these two people would you trust to make a major football decision at your club: The owner/chairman? Or a bloke with a business head who happens to have played, coached and managed in the professional game?

If the answer is the latter then Chris Turner - as the ONLY such football operator in the game - is a role model to lead the industry out of its current insanity.

It’s a no-brainer really - but then it seems that’s the problem with some of the game’s foreign ownership. A business brain, yes. A football brain, no. Hence the ludicrous goings-on at clubs like Blackburn, Southampton and Nottingham Forest.

Turner, as chief executive of Chesterfield, is unique in offering football a way out of its maze of madness.

The former Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper and manager - who learned the business side as a director at Harltepool - insists: “There are plenty of good, experienced football people who are out of the game and forgotten. Some of these owners should look at those people. Not to become the next manager but to come in and manage the football side of the club.”

Neither, he hastens to add, to become a sort of “director of football”, the nebulous title that has set the game back because the roles it encompasses are all too vague. “I’ve spoken to the League Managers Association about it,” Turner tells me, having vowed that his own days as a team boss are over.

“My ambition is to be able to move onto committees and boards in football to add my experience on the way ahead.

“When I was at Hartlepool, the chairman, Ken Hodcroft, ran it like no other club so that we didn’t run into financial problems. I went to every budget meeting across nine years in two spells as manager. I got to know about austerity and cash flow. For some reason people think that football is a different world. It isn’t. But managers can persuade people to spend money they wouldn’t ordinarily do in business and the budget goes to cock.”

Turner, who was instrumental in Chesterfield’s appointment of Paul Cook, sees his role as being equally protective of the manager. “You have to give him a sense of freedom about who he brings in and not be looking over his shoulder all the time - without letting him run away with things by bringing in players carte blanche.”

At Hillsborough, Chris is rightfully credited as the architect of Paul Sturrock’s 2005 promotion team - as the chairman who sacked him, Dave Allen, acknowledged by installing Turner in a key position with the Spireites where Allen is major shareholder.

“Wednesday’s wage bill was £7.3m when I went there,” he recalls. “By the time I left it was down to £2.5m and they had a promotion squad with players who later went to the Premiership in Chris Brunt and Glenn Whelan.

“There was a tremendous amount of outside pressure at the time because of the Ken Bates takeover bid and there was no animosity between me and Dave. In fact, he asked me who I thought the next manager should be and I said there was only one for me - Paul Sturrock.

“It’s ironic really that Dave brought me back and I’ve enjoyed my 12 months at Chesterfield. There’ve been some tough decisions, the toughest being when I had speak to an ex-team mate in John Sheridan and inform him he was no longer running the team.”

Cook’s appointment raised eyebrows considering his former club Accrington’s lowly position but Turner hits the truth again, pointing out that success is relative depending on budgets. “Clubs tend to look at who’s leading the league tables and go for that person,” he said. “I think you’ve got to look more deeply into it than that, just as there’s an exhaustive process for key appointments in business.

“It can then take two or three years to build a team. My job is to give the manager that opportunity. The only revolving door we want to see here is when we are successful and clubs want to poach our manager - and even then we’d do our utmost to keep him.”

Is it just me or is that the most perfect sense? If so, copy this article and send it on to Ewood Park, St Mary’s and the City Ground.

Wilson is right to play mind games

Sheffield United have conspicuously failed to brush teams aside this season as they did last. There’s also been little sign of them storming to the top of the table.

Until now. And it is Danny Wilson’s timely call for both of those things that appears to have set the right note. Belief, bravado, call it what you will.

The fact remains that the Blades have a big pyschological hurdle to clear after last season’s finale. Anything half-hearted from here, like aiming to nudge 1-0 wins, is doomed to failure and Wilson knows it.

To state that his players had more ability than they were showing was a clever mental ploy aimed at instilling more confidence and less inhibition. Nice timing, too, to point out that some of United’s rivals are unused to the pressure.

And transfer dealings, fairly criticised from the board’s perspective in my view, look a little better balanced following the loaning of Dominic Poleon from Leeds. Chris Porter’s temporary departure was a price worth paying on his patchy contribution.

Antonio value is sure to rocket

If Crystal Palace are to collect £15m from Manchester United for Wilfried Zaha then how much is Michail Antonio worth to Sheffield Wednesday?

A good question and one I can’t claim to have invented as it was tweeted to me this week. The obvious answer is not nearly as much - yet at least - but then that’s not really the main thrust of my reply.

The wider point is that it can still be damn good value to pay out for a player and tie him to a long term deal. When Antonio finally joined Wednesday after summer-long negotiations the fee was - guess what? - undisclosed. But educated guesses of around £750,000 were probably not far out.

What is even more certain is that the 22-year-old winger is now worth considerably more. That’s because, having shown his potential in League One as a Gary Megson loanee last season, he has proved he can do the business in the Championship. But the Owls’ decision to award him a four-year contract should not be under-estimated, either.

It’s why they can sit back and watch his value soar for another season or two. Value now? I’d put it around the £2m mark based on Antonio (named in the npower Championship Team of the Week) consistently posing the biggest threat to the opposition whether his side have been winning or losing.

His seven goals, nonetheless impressive for a wideman, don’t tell half the story. Which adds up to the fact that Wednesday have their biggest on-field asset since the days of Chris Brunt, Glenn Whelan and Madjid Bougherra.

My thanks to Mark Hope (@owls_4life) for helping me fill this space!