Sheffield Wednesday striker Chris O’Grady hopes his derby winner has not pushed his former manager Keith Hill closer to the Oakwell axe.
O’Grady netted the only goal to beat fellow relegation-strugglers Barnsley on Saturday night and pile the pressure on former mentor Hill, the pair having worked together at Rochdale.
The 26-year-old credits Hill with reviving his career after playing for a string of clubs before arriving at Spotland ahead of a high-profile move to Wednesday.
But after his “bitter-sweet” goal stretched Barnsley’s winless run to 11 games – they last won on October 20 – the pressure has been cranked up on Hill.
In his programme notes, Hill penned: “This match won’t define both teams’ season, but it could define a manager’s position.”
Afterwards, Hill blamed referee Stuart Attwell for not spotting a foul by Wednesday’s Gary Madine on goalkeeper Luke Steele in the build-up to O’Grady’s first-half goal.
“The referee gets it wrong and the ramifications of him getting that decision wrong could be catastrophic – the result has been decided by that decision,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have a second job to go to on Monday and I have to deal with it.”
O’Grady, who netted his sixth goal of the season, paid tribute to Hill and revealed he snubbed a move to Oakwell earlier this season in order to try to win over Owls manager Dave Jones.
“The management team at Barnsley are the reason why I am here at Sheffield Wednesday and sat in front of you,” he said.
“I am very respectful of what they have done for me. It was slightly bitter-sweet to score against them, I know they are under pressure and it’s not nice to apply the pressure.
“It’s important for us to get out of what we are in, whoever it is against.
“I spoke to Keith a little bit after the game. There was the option of possibly going there (Barnsley) at times this season.
“But I have earned the right to be at Wednesday and it’s a massive club and means a lot to me. I am committed to getting out of the position we have got ourselves into. I am here to the end.
“I came quite close to joining Barnsley, up to the point where it was up to me whether I wanted to go there or not.
“But, thinking about the fans, and what I have achieved while I have been here, I definitely have unfinished business. After last season and the position we are now, it wouldn’t have been fair to leave that.
“You don’t expect to be top of the league one season and bottom the following season. To get results is tough. Personally, I feel confident in the Championship and confident I can contribute to get us out of this position.”
Both managers had gone into the Oakwell game with their futures under intense speculation. Wednesday had lost seven successive games, Barnsley had no wins in 10, and both teams occupied places in the Championship drop zone.
The Owls actually went into the game bottom of the table, after Peterborough beat Cardiff City earlier in the day, and defeat would have seen the Hillsborough club six points adrift of safety.
But after O’Grady’s goal relieved the pressure on Jones, the striker urged the Barnsley board to keep faith with Hill.
“I would definitely stick with Keith,” stressed former Rotherham United striker O’Grady. “It’s quite surprising that they are in that position, because he is the type of manager who throughout his career has always got positive results and his teams have always gone above expectations.
“I am sure that will happen this time around, too. It’s just a slight one-off that they have under-performed; he has always got results out of players.”
Peterborough produced the shock of the Championship season so far as they ended Cardiff’s perfect home record 2-1. The table-topping Bluebirds had won their opening 10 league games in the Welsh capital but came unstuck.
Middlesbrough and Hull moved three points off the lead with 2-0 wins over Wolves and Huddersfield, respectively.
Boro had to wait until late on to break down a stubborn Wolves defence, Martin Emnes netting an 89th-minute penalty after Karl Henry handled Scott McDonald’s cross. The Australia striker then continued his recent scoring streak with his side’s second in stoppage time.
Leeds United moved into the top half of the table as they won a third successive home league game, 2-0 over Ipswich. On-loan winger Jerome Thomas (20) and Paul Green (68) were on target at Elland Road.