Barnsley striker Marcus Tudgay insists Sheffield Wednesday must stick with under-fire manager Dave Jones.
Tudgay spent five years at Hillsborough, earning cult status after netting a Steel City winner, but most of his time there was spent against a backdrop of managerial change.
Signed by Paul Sturrock, he then saw Sean McAuley, Brian Laws and Alan Irvine take turns in the Owls’ hot-seat. Wednesday have had 10 managers in 12 years since they were relegated from the Premier League.
But since Milan Mandaric bought the club two years ago, the new owner and chairman has provided financial stability, and Tudgay believes his former club need to show continuity in the dugout for Wednesday to prosper.
Speaking ahead of today’s South Yorkshire derby at Oakwell, where both the Tykes and Wednesday find themselves in the Championship drop zone, Tudgay expressed his desperation for both clubs to climb out of trouble.
“Wednesday has a special place in my heart, I had great memories there,” said Tudgay, who will face the Owls for the first time since he left for Nottingham Forest two years ago. “A great club, great people, the fans were tremendous with me.
“I am just buzzing, it will be the first time I have come up against them since leaving.
“There’s no point in sacking the manager, you have to work with them; it takes time. Dave is a good manager, he is proven, twice in the play-offs (with Wolverhampton and Cardiff City).
“To keep changing managers doesn’t help anybody. My belief is you should stick with the manager and give him a good chance and I am sure he will turn it around.
“I’ve played against Dave Jones’s teams several times, he is a quality manager. He now has a chairman that wants to back him, he has spent some money – the results might not have been good this season, but I have still got some friends there and they have a good team with good individual players. I think they will be okay.
“I always said, when I was there, that we needed someone to come into the club and back it, give the manager what he wants so he can go out and build a good team.
“It was always a case of getting through the season, using kids sometimes, and sometimes not even having enough players for the squad. But they were good times for me.
“We had some tough times; we were relegated and it took them a while to get back to the Championship.”
Tudgay, who netted 52 goals in 189 starts for Wednesday after joining from Derby County, including a Steel City derby winner at Bramall Lane in 2009, left Hillsborough after relegation to League One under Irvine. But he said the move suited both him and the club, and he retains special memories of his time in S6.
“I left when Irvine was in charge,” said the 29-year-old. “I had been there nearly five years; it was a new challenge, and I had the chance to go to Nottingham Forest.
“Both parties, myself and Wednesday, said the same, there were no bad vibes or negativity.”
For now he is just enjoying playing first-team football at Oakwell, a chance to put himself in the shop window as his contract at Forest expires next summer.
“This is why I wanted to go out and get some games, match fitness and hopefully some goals.
“They call it the shop window and shows other clubs what I can do because I haven’t played for a while.”
Having netted twice in five games at Barnsley during his loan spell, he says a home win today – but with both sides subsequently escaping the relegation dogfight come the end of the season – would be the ideal scenario.
“I am enjoying it at Barnsley,” he said. “I just wanted to come, get some games, get some goals. I hadn’t played for a little while, so I am enjoying it. We want the three points, I am contracted to Barnsley. The stats state we are out-passing teams, but not putting the ball in the back of the net.
“We are not down or disheartened, we are battling hard.
“The lads have been tremendous with me ever since I joined the club.
“They’re honest and hard-working, which makes me believe that we’ll turn things around.
“It has been tough with the run we’ve been on, but the match is on Sky, so there’s no better game to perform and get a good result.”
As for scoring today, Tudgay insists if he does add to his Tykes tally he will not celebrate out of respect for his former club.
“It’s in some people’s make-up to celebrate when they play their old club – but that’s not me,” he said. “The Sheffield Wednesday supporters are fantastic. They’re passionate, caring and honest.
“It would be a great feeling for me to get a goal, but if I did manage to stick one away I wouldn’t celebrate out of respect for the Wednesday fans.
“The fans were brilliant with me in my time with the club. I can go back to Hillsborough with my family and I get a great reception from a lot of the fans. That means a lot to me.
“My family will be definitely coming (today) to watch the game. I’m really looking forward to it.”