Ongoing friction cost Megson his job

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Sheffield Wednesday fans have needed no time or encouragement to get back behind Milan Mandaric and to warm to his new manager Dave Jones.

What a remarkable statement in itself. And as anyone who saw this paper last week will understand, there are a few loose ends to tie up here!

So, after the shock sacking of Gary Megson defeated the Telegraph’s deadline, we can’t move on without reflecting on the events that led up to it.

First, let it be said that Mandaric has appointed well. Jones has been fired in the furnace of big club management, having impressed at both Wolves and Cardiff.

He has landed himself a hard act to follow and a difficult job for all sorts of reasons. But he has also copped for some of the most patient yet passionate fans in football. And some of the most loyal; hence their initial hostility at losing one of the their own.

In one corner stood the saviour of the club. In the other, a folk hero steeped in the Owls from his earliest days. Both fiery characters and maybe the alliance lasted longer than could have been expected. When the sparks flew and the flames flared only one of them was ever going to emerge down that fire escape.

But owner Mandaric also felt the heat from his decision to sack Megson just three days after a supercharged steel city derby victory at Hillsborough.

The outcry from fans was rightly curbed by the reality that if Mandaric hadn’t stepped in the club itself would have been incinerated by debt.

And that was the huge dilemma for supporters over the sad departure of a man whose father captained the club, who played for it with distinction and who managed it just as fervently, if not more so.

Regardless of how the dismissal was portrayed officially, there was an obvious breakdown in relationships between Megson, Mandaric and chief executive Paul Aldridge.

It was the fall-out from the fall-out that effectively brought matters to a head; an apparent row at the training ground at the beginning of derby week with Mandaric already pondering a change after three defeats.

What many supporters may not have realised is that the friction started much, much earlier - going back to last summer and beyond. Megson, a man not accustomed to biting his lip, somehow tempered his frustration over transfer dealings he felt confined him to permanent acquisitions from the lower divisions that he calculated cost just £425,000. He badly wanted Adam Le Fondre and to keep Ben Marshall. On the other hand, a stream of loan signings was always on tap.

Megson’s close confidants speak of his inner turmoil - how he felt demoralised at times and that, when the end came, it brought relief as well as anguish.

Underpinning all the pent-up frustration was his burning desire and impatience to hasten a revival of the club he called his own. Actually, it belongs lock, stock and barrel to Mandaric, even though the chairman would be the first to admit that the fans are the real heart and soul of it.

So there was only ever going to be one outcome. The only surprise - shock! - was in the timing. Had the axe fallen a week earlier, Megson and the fans would have expected it. But three days after a triumph that confirmed the manager’s hero status in the eyes of the S6 public? Come on, who saw that one coming?

As such it was a brave call, even for a chairman who had his next manager lined up and who has since explained that he didn’t want to cause a sensation in derby week. Maybe Mandaric won’t be around long-term, either, having married commitment with an openness to offers.

But the absolute bottom line can only be that it is Mandaric’s club, he rescued it and he pays the bills. His aims are in line with the supporters’ aspirations anyway. He has again asked them to trust him and most are doing just that after having their say.

Anyone who doubts whether Mandaric has been good for Wednesday only has to ask where they would be without him. As such, he is entitled to call the shots as he sees fit. Even if they misfire occasionally. But last week’s bombshell has been sandbagged so quickly that it is already a distant echo. An extraordinary week even by S6 standards!