Gary Megson has issued a back-to-basics demand to Gary Madine in a frank exchange with Sheffield Wednesday’s top striker.
The Owls boss reveals today that Madine is “not happy” about being hauled off in recent games. In return, Megson has reminded his 12-goal marksman what made him Wednesday’s main marksman in the first place.
After an initially promising comeback, the striker has been a pale shadow of his former self since returning from a broken toe - and was substituted within a few minutes of the restart during a laboured 2-1 home win over Yeovil last Saturday.
“I’ve spoken to Gary and he’s not happy about being brought off in the last two games,” Megson told the Telegraph. “He’s frustrated but he’s got to get back to what he was doing before.”
Megson suggests Madine has to make his presence felt - and if he can’t do it with his ability then, among other things, he should do it in a physical and even vocal sense.
He added: “The only two things the opposition can’t stop you doing is working very hard and talking. If he’s getting frustrated - which he is - then there is nothing he can do other than work hard.
“It’s not a massive issue but he’s got to accept that.”
Clearly, Megson feels that Madine should be compensating the team in other ways on those days when the chances either don’t fall for him or are missed.
His trusty sidekick Chris O’Grady, a handful even when he doesn’t look like scoring, could not be offering a better example.
Yet the fact that Madine was not involved in Tuesday’s FA Cup replay defeat to Blackpool suggests he could well keep his place alongside O’Grady at Exeter this weekend ahead of Clinton Morrison and Ryan Lowe.
Not that any of the shadow squad pressed their claims in the midweek 3-0 reverse, much to to the manager’s dismay. “I don’t think any of those who don’t play on Saturday can justifiably come and see me to say they are hard done by. . . I’m disappointed about that,” said Megson.
“We didn’t play the way I would have expected in a cup tie.
“It was a bit insipid. I’m hopeful we can use that to give us impetus to get going again.”
Jermaine Johnson was among those not risked for a game of secondary priority in a complete reversal of what might have happened a few weeks ago - before the Jamaican’s rebirth on the back of three spectacular goals and some sustained menace. “Whether the penny has dropped with JJ only time will tell,” said Megson, wondering if the mantle of the consistently dangerous Ben Marshall can be adopted by the maverick winger.
“There are some things JJ does better than Ben. He’s a lot quicker, for instance. But they both have different strengths and we have to move on from Ben. We have to get the best out of JJ.
“People forget that we had a place waiting for him in pre-season when he was flying. Then he got injured and it took him a long time getting back.
“But give him credit. He’s doing excellently, certainly giving everything that’s asked of him at the moment.”