HEAD COACH Stuart Gray insists he is not frightened for his future after the arrival of former Premier League manager Glenn Roeder at Sheffield Wednesday.
The former Watford, West Ham United and Newcastle United boss was unveiled at Hillsborough this week – alongside businessman Adam Pearson – to form a three-man sporting committee with Gray.
It is part of a leadership group which new owner Dejphon Chansiri has installed to help transform the Owls’ fortunes.
One of Roeder’s key roles will be scouting and player recruitment, but Gray has been assured he is in charge of team selection.
And the Wednesday head coach insists the arrival of Roeder and Pearson – the latter having spent time previously at Leeds United, Hull City and Derby County – can only benefit the Owls.
“I am delighted Adam and Glenn have both come in,” said Gray. “They are two football people. They have great experience, contacts and I am looking forward to working with them.
“They are going to be great additions to the football club because we all want to get to that promised land (the Premier League).
“It would be foolish not to listen to Glenn’s and Adam’s experiences and their knowledge.
“I think my strength is out on the pitch. I’ve had to deal with players’ agents and players’ contracts. The most important thing is my time out there developing the players.
“It’s about team building and team spirit and I think we have had that in abundance this season. Team spirit is vital. My job satisfaction is improving the players. When I come off the training ground, it’s maybe driving hundreds of miles to see players and games so if Glenn and Adam coming in takes that workload off me then great.
“If I can put more hours on the training pitch, then fantastic.”
Gray hopes to sit down with Roeder and Pearson once the final two games of the season – Leeds United tomorrow and Watford the week after – are completed.
When appointed head coach, rather than manager, by former owner Milan Mandaric, Gray always knew a ‘director of football’ figure would be appointed at some stage.
He does not see any reason why the three-man committee cannot be a success at Hillsborough.
“If any of the workload is going to be taken off me, that can only be a good thing,” said Gray.
“I think we have brought in the right people. It can only help Sheffield Wednesday move forward. We have to be one team on and off the pitch.”
Asked if he felt under pressure from Roeder’s arrival, Gray replied: “No, I’m not frightened at all about that.
“If I can learn from these guys, then great. I’m sure they can learn from me. They are football people. They are hard-working and want the same success as I want for Sheffield Wednesday.
“I know Glenn from my days at Southampton. I know Adam from when he was at Hull and Derby.
“We have been in contact many times. I have worked for Adam before and he’s a proper football man.
“I’m very confident it can work. I know the two people who have come in. I know them well with their knowledge and experience.
“It’s going to be a big summer. We have to get these two games out of the way and then sit down and discuss what’s the best way forward of getting this club in the Premier League.
“You want to see gradual improvement each year and I think we have seen an improvement on last season.
“Where we have let ourselves down is in front of goal. When I evaluate at the end of the season, I will be thinking we could have been a lot higher if we had converted our chances. We have to improve and look at all aspects. It is not just on the pitch. It is off the pitch where we (also) need to improve.”
The Owls will be without centre-half Kamil Zayette (fractured cheekbone) and Sam Hutchinson (hamstring) for the final two games of the season. But Jose Semedo, Will Keane, Filipe Melo and Claude Dielna are all back in training after injuries.
Gray – like opposite number Neil Redfearn, a midfielder who honed his playing skills at neighbouring Barnsley – watched a DVD of a depleted Leeds team lose at Charlton last week, and expects a tough derby despite the Elland Road club’s troubles.
“They were unlucky to be beaten by Charlton because they dominated the game, dominated the first half and created lots of chances,” said Gray.
“Neil Redfearn has done all the jobs. He was the academy manager at Leeds and ended up getting promoted to the senior job.
“He’s done things the right way with his coaching badges.
“People will say it has been a difficult period at Leeds, but he’s come out with a lot of credit and dignity. It would be a perfect way to end the season at Hillsborough to win a Yorkshire derby.”