“GROUND-BREAKING” is how Adam Pearson describes Sheffield Wednesday’s new management set-up. Glenn Roeder, meanwhile, opts for “the way forward”.
Either way, English football is about to break new ground following yesterday’s unveiling of the management structure that chairman Dejphon Chansiri believes can deliver his target of Premier League football inside two years.
Never before have three key figures worked as closely in the domestic game as Pearson, Roeder and head coach Stuart Gray are expected to do at Hillsborough in the coming weeks and months.
Just how the set-up pans out – as Wednesday look to shake off more than a decade of under-achievement – could go a long way towards bringing to these shores what Roeder, in particular, sees as a long overdue shift towards the more European model of not entrusting one man with all the footballing responsibility at a club.
“I think English and British football lags behind in this sort of situation,” said the 59-year-old to The Yorkshire Post as he looked out across Hillsborough from one of the main stand’s well-appointed executive boxes.
“Too much is expected of a manager. He has to do all of it, and over a period of time like a season in a competition as arduous as the Championship, that is tough.
“Now, the head coach can fully concentrate on coaching, maybe do afternoon sessions if he wants because he doesn’t have to be somewhere else in the country. Or in France, Belgium, wherever. That role will fall now onto my shoulders.
“This is the way forward. That said, it (a change to a continental set-up) is still a sticking point in this country. There are reasons for that, which I am not necessarily going to go into now. Maybe with a group of older managers coming to the end of their careers and the new wave coming through, it might change.”
There have, of course, been several examples of English clubs adopting a more continental approach in recent years.
Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Newcastle United have all gone down the route with varying degrees of success.
At Wednesday, however, the difference is that there will be no all-powerful sporting director working alongside a manager.
Instead, Pearson and Roeder each arrive with the title of ‘adviser to the chairman’, while Gray remains head coach.
The roles are clearly defined. Gray has total control over team selection and coaching, Roeder’s primary role will be identifying and assessing talent either at home or overseas, and Pearson’s task is, in his words, “To bring some value to the transfer market”.
In that respect, yesterday’s two appointments appear shrewd. Roeder brings a wealth of experience, not only as a manager but also as a scout – most recently at Aston Villa after being brought in by Gerard Houllier – and coach with the national team.
Pearson, meanwhile, boasts 17 years in the game and a CV that includes two spells as chairman of Hull City and a hugely successful stint as commercial director at Leeds United.
“I firmly believe this can work,” said the former Tigers chief about his return to football. “For an owner to come in and invest huge amounts of money into an industry where he hasn’t got specific knowledge, not to recruit industry specialists would be a mistake.
“The concept of bringing in industry specialists to advise himself is eminently sensible. And to make it work, you have to have the right balance of personalities within the team.
“That is up to myself and Glenn to create that trust with Stuart and make sure we are working off the same page.
“What has been done at Sheffield Wednesday is probably ground breaking in this country but, hopefully, the people appointed will have the maturity to handle it.
“The honesty we have in the room makes that eminently achievable.”
Asked if there was a danger of there being too many voices at the top of the club, Pearson replied: “The danger in football is of too few voices.
“Too many times, everything is invested in the present manager and you live or die by his mistakes.”
Pearson and Roeder are understood to have met club staff yesterday afternoon. A first meeting with Gray is also on the agenda and Roeder believes the new set-up can only help the head coach.
“Stuart will want to concentrate on the coaching, which is one of his big strengths,” said Roeder.
“He can leave the recruitment, as I will travel anywhere in the world to watch a player.
“The three of us – four, including the chairman – are strong characters with strong opinions. But we will come up with the right result for Sheffield Wednesday.
“There is going to be a big turnover in the squad due to the number out of contract (this summer) and we have to get it right.”
Newcastle from the moment in January, 2008, when Dennis Wise was appointed director of football to work with managing director Derek Lambias and manager Kevin Keegan is perhaps the closest to the model adopted by Chansiri.
Asked why the Owls’ new structure can work when the Magpies’ experiment floundered and Keegan quit, Pearson replied: “There is no self interest here. Myself and Glenn are working for the chairman, in conjunction with Stuart.
“We are not here for any self-gratification. We are here to make this a great Premier League club again.
“A number of clubs will be investing and working very hard to reach the Premier League but no club will be working harder than this one.”