Sheffield Wednesday: Mandaric ‘wants best for Owls’

Gary Madine celebrates a goal in Dave Jones' first game in charge, against Bury
Gary Madine celebrates a goal in Dave Jones' first game in charge, against Bury

DAVE Jones will sometimes say jokingly that as long as Milan Mandaric keeps paying the bill when they eat out together, he knows he is ok.

It looks if the Wednesday manager will be dining free for some time to come after the faith his chairman has shown in him this season.

Jones has ridden some rough times yet arrives at his first anniversary as boss tomorrow with Wednesday’s prospects looking brighter and his relationship with Mandaric as strong as ever.

It was a rapport that began last year when they met properly for the first time, and with an out-of-work Jones having seen only one Wednesday match that season, as a TV commentator covering the FA Cup tie at Morecambe, one of his former clubs:

“When the call came after Gary (Megson) had gone, I spoke to him (Mandaric); we had two days of talks. I was still wary whether I should join; maybe the chairman had doubts about whether he still wanted me.

“I’d met him when he was chairman of other clubs, but never really had a conversation with him.

“I got on really well with him. I had similar ideas.”

Jones had been aware of Mandaric’s reputation for being a trigger-happy chairman - something the Owls owner has repeatedly and strongly disputed.

“I think that along the way as a chairman and a manager, you get wiser; you learn,” added Jones.

“With the clubs the chairman has been at, and been successful at them, he must have something in his head that’s right.

“He’s no different to how we all are here: he expects a lot of good things, and why not, because he’s the man that’s putting the money in. He’s not expecting to fail. He only wants the best; along the way, whatever that best will be, there will always be casualties.

“I’ve said many times as long as he keeps paying the bills when we go out, we’ll seem to be all right.

“He and Paul (Aldridge, vice-chairman) work so hard. Along the way, they expect results. That’s what I’m in - a results business.”

Jones, appointed on March 2 last year when there were 13 games left, watched a 0-0 draw from the stand at Rochdale, when caretaker boss Chris Evans was in charge, then he took over for the home game against Bury, which the Owls won 4-1 to embark on a 17-match unbeaten run under the new manager.

Now Jones feels that making sure of Championship survival is a tougher task than the promotion one that faced him when he arrived.

He explained: “Let’s be honest, with 13 games to go, nobody expected us to be automatically promoted. That wasn’t on the agenda; it was probably staying within the play-offs, because the club was drifting a bit.

“My aim was certainly to make sure we got to the play-offs, but along the way results started to really fly, others were dropping points, and the biggest thing we did was that we capitalised on that.

“But we needed others around us to lose games, and that’s what happened. That’s the bit of luck we had. But to get that luck we had to maintain that winning streak.

“This time around, to get to where we want to be, we have to continue what we are doing. It’s a lot harder, because it’s a harder division.

“There are many, many good sides in this division with good managers, good players, good coaches, and we’re all battling for one thing, to try to get out of it.”

Jones also feels that his first year is comparable to his beginnings at other clubs.

He explained: “When I went to Wolves, they were probably in the same situation they’re in now. That was a tough first year.” He was to take them to the Premier League.

He added: “When I went into Cardiff, they didn’t have any players; they were all kids.” He turned the Bluebirds into perennial promotion challengers.

Jones added: “My first year here has been neither more nor less difficult than my first year at all my other clubs, for one reason only: expectation levels.

“I’m not talking about fans’ expectations levels, I’m talking about my own. On top of that comes the fans’ and the chairman’s.

“I can promise you mine will be as higher if not higher than anybody else’s.”

Jones, seeking to extend an unbeaten run of seven games, could name an unchanged side against Forest tomorrow, with Reda Johnson still ruled out by his ankle problem.