Sheffield Wednesday: Mandaric gives Gray extra time

Stuart Gray at the Watford game, with Gianfranco Zola in the background
Stuart Gray at the Watford game, with Gianfranco Zola in the background

Stuart Gray’s tenure as Owls caretaker boss has been extended by Milan Mandaric.

The chairman plans to wait until after Christmas before firming up the process of fully appointing a successor to Dave Jones.

Gray is on course to get another five games in charge - with Mandaric regarding the busy holiday programme as a “good test” of his ability.

The Owls face Wigan, Bournemouth, Blackburn, Charlton and Blackpool between tomorrow and New Year’s Day.

Mandaric, though also still having other candidates in mind, told The Star: “We are looking at everything and watching Stuart very carefully.

“His time is extended. We all have to get behind him and the team and give him full support and some space.

“It will be a good test of Stuart’s ability, and I think he is a proper coach,

“It is more important to support him during the holiday period so we are not going to push very hard as far as interviewing goes.”

Mandaric has been impressed by the team’s form since Gray took over, and detects a body of opinion among supporters that he should stay in the job.

But the chairman will continue to monitor Gray and the team before arriving at a final decision. One of the other issues facing the club in the New Year will be that of players whose loans end in January or who are on short-term deals.

Wolves could be receptive to the Owls’ wish to prolong Roger Johnson’s loan stay, for he was not in the plans of manager Kenny Jackett.

Gray has confirmed that the Owls want to keep Johnson. He said: “We’re trying to have a bit of dialogue with Wolves and trying to extend that. I think Roger is enjoying his spell.

“When Reda Johnson has been injured, Roger has been captain as well. He’s very vocal in the dressing room and on the pitch.

“We want to extend his loan. He’s not our player. That will be down to Wolves. Anything can happen in football.”