DAVE Jones has issued a passionate defence of his position as Sheffield Wednesday boss, insisting: “I haven’t become a bad manager overnight”.
The Owls chief received a vote of confidence from chairman Milan Mandaric earlier this week, but saw his side slip to second bottom on Tuesday night after a 4-1 defeat at home to Watford.
Now, Wednesday travel to Cardiff this weekend hoping to avoid a sixth successive league defeat and Jones, returning to one of his former clubs, will be under more scrutiny than ever as Mandaric’s axe looms.
“The players are better than that, but they’ve got to show it,” Jones said.
“I’ll stand here and take as much flack as necessary, but the players have got to show up. They can’t hide.
“Have I become a bad manager overnight? Have I suddenly lost the ability to do it?
“Or is it a combination of a few things? I don’t remember being out there with them, playing that bad pass or missing that tackle, but I’m alongside them.
“Four months ago after promotion I was the best manager in the world, now I’m the worst.
“But my record is there to be shot at – I’ve never been in this situation before.
“We’ve got to see a bit more fight from the players – but if they think that a change of manager is going to be the be all and end all, then that’s not the way to go forward.”
Jones, who saw Anthony Gardner, Lewis Buxton and Rhys McCabe all pick up injuries against Watford, was asked post-match whether he had “lost the dressing room”.
“No, it’s still in the same place I left it; opposite the away dressing room and next to the physio’s room,” he retorted.
“That’s a question that gets trotted out a lot when you’re on a bad run, and we are going through a very rough time at the moment.
“But if you’re a wounded animal, what do you do, roll over? Of course you don’t. You get back on your feet, and you go again. We are in a battle, and I am ready for battle.”
Jones felt that his side were growing in confidence against Watford, after taking an early lead through Michail Antonio. Chris Lines, pictured right, returning from a groin injury, then missed a first-half penalty with the scores still level at 1-1.
“We were slowly starting to pass it around – we’d give it away now and then, but then we’d go and get it back,” the Wednesday boss said. “At times, it’s like you’re telling them to do the opposite of what they should be doing, and that’s when the confidence starts to drain.
“But there’s no hiding place out there, you’ve got to be big and brave.
“We’ve got to come back to Hillsborough, so you can’t hide – we all have a responsibility here.
“I’ll fight for these players and stand alongside them, but they’ve got to give me something back.”
Jones admits that some of his charges are playing with “fear”. He said: “You can’t have that; we have to get rid of it.
“We won’t be the first club to go through that, and we won’t be the last.
“But you have to look at the players, whether they are senior or the younger ones, to pull together.
“If people think that someone else is going to do a better job here, then go and get them. But what if they then lose a few games?
“Chopping and changing isn’t the right answer, and this is the only job in the world where people think that it is.
“But we’re in a results business, and if you don’t get the right results then people want a change.
“But you’ve seen with how many managers this club has had over the last 10 years – it doesn’t always work.”
Jones may have further injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s trip to Cardiff.
“Anthony, Lewis and Rhys will all be assessed again this week,” he said, “and there were a couple more lads who picked up knocks, but carried on.
“That’s just the way it goes when you’re up against it.”
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