Sheffield Wednesday: Jones challenge to players

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Dave Jones has told his players that they owe a debt to the fans - and he hopes the team can disprove his Hillsborough theory of a fortnight ago.

The Owls manager broached the idea after the draw with 10-man Yeovil that anxiety caused by playing in front of expectant crowds may be partly to blame for unconvincing home form.

But the onus is back on the team to perform on their own patch, in tomorrow’s clash with Doncaster, especially after a worse performance and result at Birmingham.

Jones says that the opposition and the venue has to be irrelevant this time: “We have to show far more and give our fans something that we didn’t give them last week - I have said that to the players.”

He hopes that there will be no fear factor: “We’re looking at all different reasons. I hope it’s not that.

“Everybody here knows what’s expected of them.

“I only brought it up (his post-Yeovil ‘fear’ suggestion) because one or two looked that way. But I know where I’d rather play, and it certainly wouldn’t be away from home.

“I hope it’s a great game and we get the result we want.”

Jones and first-team coach Stuart Gray were taken aback by last week’s slump, feeling it was uncharacteristic of a side who had battled all the way previously and drawn at Leeds and Middlesbrough.

He also says: “We all have a responsibilty to make sure it’s all done right, but like at a lot of clubs it’s been a bitty start. Unfortunately it hasn’t happened for us yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.

“People have to have a bit of patience. We are not the most patient people here in the club; if people think we are just letting it go, I can assure them that’s not the case.

“We’ve demanded more from the players. We know we have let everyone down. We let ourselves down - that’s as important as letting the supporters down.

“We never saw last week’s performance coming, Normally we’ll dig in, regardless of how well or badly we’re playing. We just seemed to be avoiding that last week.

“That can happen: would you have expected Manchester United to lose 4-1 to Manchester City? We want to put it right, and there’s no better way than in the next game. One week can’t ruin your whole thought process. That’s what we are saying to the players: ‘You’ve had a bad week; right, what are you going to do about it?’ It’s what we do and the players do. We all have to man up to it.”

Jones also hopes that if some fans are against him then they are in a minority: “I try to work to the best of my ability, with what I’ve got. That’s all I can do.”

In daily contact with Milan Mandaric, he says: “He’s like everybody else; he wants to know what’s going on and why the performance was as it was. We try to give him the answers and the reasons.

“Since the day I walked in, he has been supportive. He has a lot on his plate at the moment. I’m here to do a job. The chairman is backing me as much as he possibly can.

“We’re trying to build something. It’s a slow process. The club will get there. It is getting there. But it’s frustrating for everybody when you see a performance like last Saturday’s.”

His enthusiasm is undimmed, despite this season’s problems and limited funds: “I love my job. I love coming in to work. I’ve been a manager for 16-17 years; I’ve seen good times and bad; I know which I like and expect.

“What you have to do is dig in. We can’t always get what we want as quickly as we want. I have a great job - I want to keep it. I want the players to realise what a responsibility they have; they fell short of that last week.”

Jordan Spence looks set to play in the final game of his month’s loan, with the derby maybe “a couple of days too soon” for Lewis Buxton’s gashed knee, said Jones. He will discuss the next step with Mandaric and West Ham boss Sam Allardyce.

Jermaine Johnson is in Jamaica’s squad to face the USA and Honduras on October 11 and 15.