Sheffield Wednesday: Jones seeks happy anniversary

Dave Jones and Milan Mandaric with the League One runners-up trophy
Dave Jones and Milan Mandaric with the League One runners-up trophy

WEDNESDAY fans are a pretty satisfied bunch just now, writes Paul Thompson.

At least that’s the impression I get from talking to friends and fans and listening at the forum at Hillsborough the other night.

No overt criticism was expressed in questions asked or points made as 300 supporters filled the 1867 Lounge for the opportunity of listening to what Dave Jones and Milan Mandaric had to say.

I guess the attraction was that opportunities to get close to manager and chairman do not come along very often.

Most people just listened; there was not exactly a clamour to ask questions.

If fans in general had been profoundly unhappy with the way this season had gone or the way Hillsborough was being run, then no doubt the get-together would have been as lively as some of the annual general meetings of shareholders that took place when the club were in turmoil and the board were a target.

Wednesday officials were certainly happy with the mood of Tuesday’s forum, and the atmosphere maybe was a symptom of a change that has gradually come over the club.

The season began, remember, with the feelgood factor of promotion still in the air, and with hopes of another promotion challenge.

Now the club are only 19th in the table, yet this does not seem so bad at all, considering their plight during the first half of the campaign.

Everyone has come to realise fully the difficulties of life in the Championship, and this gradual reality check has resulted in consolidation being widely accepted as a reasonable outcome, at least for this season.

Dave Jones, even in the darkest times, has escaped the flak that came the way of some of his predecessors.

Mandaric stood by him and has justifiably said, in view of the last two months’ results, that he was right not to bring out the axe.

The steadiness of the ship in all respects is timely, if the club were wanting to give season-ticket sales a push: the deadline for next season’s cheapest seats arrives on Saturday.

Jones has managed to turn the club’s fortunes around, but obviously danger has not been averted yet.

It is still a contrast to the time when he took over on March 2 last year.

The club were third in the table when Gary Megson was sacked - so Jones was in the fortunate position of coming into a club where the course for promotion had been set, instead of a new manager being called upon to avoid the prospect of relegation, as is often the case at clubs.

Jones described it rather neatly at the time: his predecessor had got the club into the position where it was, and he had taken the baton for the last lap.

His first 12 games in charge brought 10 wins, two draws and promotion - the unbeaten run under him grew to 17 games this season: one of the best starts by a Wednesday manager.

Not all Jones’s signings since the end of that campaign have come off, and there have been some tough times this season.

But things are looking up and a win against Forest would be a nice way to mark his first anniversary as boss.