Sheffield Wednesday: Wilkinson praises youngsters

Howard Wilkinson enjoying himself at his coaching session with Owls youngsters
Howard Wilkinson enjoying himself at his coaching session with Owls youngsters

Howard Wilkinson has given a stamp of approval to young Wednesday players after working with them for the first time.

The Owls’ former chairman, player and manager put on a coaching session for the Under 16s in the training-ground dome.

It was another famous face from the club’s past getting involved with the academy after the appointment this year of David Hirst as a coach. Wilkinson, who was 70 a fortnight ago, is still actively involved in football.

He is chairman of the League Managers Association, which nurtures the career of managers and coaches; and he works with UEFA on coaching and player development.

The man who had glory days as Owls and Leeds boss enjoyed working with the Wednesday youngsters, and his input was welcomed by the academy staff.

Wilkinson’s son, Ben, takes the Under 16 team and coaches them during the week.

Wilkinson senior told The Star: “Sometimes seeing a new face is good and adds a bit of variety; I did a couple of hours with the Under 16s; they put up with me!

“It’s always nice to work with young players - it’s particularly rewarding, and it’s refreshing. I enjoyed it.

“It’s not easy when you’re competing (for young talent) with clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool...but they’re a good group, with some decent players and a great attitude. I have watched them a couple of times.” Wednesday have invested in their youth system in recent times, with Milan Mandaric and Dave Jones regarding the production of home-grown players as important, though the fruits of current work may take time to emerge.

Wilkinson himself came through the Owls youth ranks to play for the first team.

His managerial achievements included taking the club into the top flight after an absence of 14 years. He is still the last Englishman to have led a team to what is now the Premier League championship, having achieved the feat with Leeds in 1992. Wilkinson was one of the experts who took part in two LMA recent one-day events at the St George’s Park national football centre at Burton, where Wednesday trained before their game at Derby.

The Autmumn Masterclasses focused on leadership, personal development and wellbeing and brought together 60 young and aspiring managers and coaches from across the professional game. Speakers included Walter Smith, Aidy Boothroyd and Sean Dyche.

The LMA plan to expand the Masterclass programme next year.