SHEFFIELD Wednesday goalkeeper Nicky Weaver knows the future of manager Alan Irvine is resting in the hands of the club’s players.
Irvine is under mounting pressure ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup fourth-round clash with League Two strugglers Hereford United and a defeat could signal the end of his one-year reign at Hillsborough.
Sheffield-born Weaver accepts that results and performances have not been good enough, but refuses to lay the blame at the manager’s door.
“Whether it’s fair or not, the manager is coming under pressure,” he said. “That’s football and there is pressure on every single manager because this is a results business. But there is only so much that the manager can do – once we cross that white line it’s down to the players.
“We all know we have not been good enough and only we can turn it around,” Weaver added. “The manager can’t play for us and we want to repay him with some good results. We all believe in everything he is telling us and we are all fully behind him – there is no doubt about that whatsoever.”
Since the arrival of new owner Milan Mandaric, the Owls have failed to win in five league games – and only a third-round FA Cup victory over Championship side Bristol City has bucked that trend. Mandaric offered his support for Irvine this week but also made it clear that results need to improve.
Tomorrow’s game against Hereford is a potential banana-skin with the League Two club’s lowly position hiding a recent improvement in form that has brought five successive victories.
Weaver, who joined the Owls on a free transfer this summer from Burnley, is under no illusions about what is at stake.
“It’s a massively important game and we need to give the fans something to cheer about because, in recent weeks, they have not had a great deal to cheer about.
“There is a lot of pressure on us because we have not been producing the goods but we were expected to beat Southport and Northampton in the first two rounds and neither were easy.
“We will have to show Hereford a lot of respect,” he added. “They are on quite a good run in League Two and will come here with nothing to lose. They will probably feel quietly confident as they are catching us in the middle of a bad run.”
Weaver is hoping for a victory that not only takes the Owls into the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in 11 years – but also changes the course of the club’s season.
“Although it’s ‘only’ the fourth round this weekend, we feel like we are on a little Cup run as we started in the first round (in early November),” he said. “We want to go as far as we can but it’s also about a performance and a result that can lead us into our next league game.
“No-one can put their finger on the reason for our current inconsistency and no-one is more frustrated than the players. There have been flashes in games but we have to be more consistent and over longer periods of time.”
Thanks to Mandaric’s financial support, Irvine has added four new players to his side this month including three defenders Reda Johnson, Michael Morrison and Mark Reynolds.
There are suggestions that the speed of change could be another factor in the club’s current form but Weaver said: “It does take new players a bit of time to bed in but Michael Morrison and Reda Johnson made debuts against Bristol City and we won that game 3-0. You can look for things like that – but all the players we have got are good enough. It is up to us to start producing.”
Queens Park Rangers’ Lee Cook, 28, is the latest player on Irvine’s radar with the Owls manager confirming a desire yesterday to set up a loan deal for the winger until the end of the season.
“We have made an enquiry about Lee and that’s as far it has gone,” said Irvine yesterday. “He has great quality and has been unfortunate because he’s had some bad injuries. Without the injuries, he would have had a very successful career.
“He is a talented, intelligent footballer, he’s got a sweet left foot, he’s a nice crosser of the ball, and has good delivery from set-pieces,” Irvine added. “There have been a number of clubs making enquiries and they will be seeing how good a deal they can get. He’s on quite big wages and they will want to recoup as much of that as they possibly can.”
Cook joined Fulham for £2.5m in 2007 but never played for the Premier League club. Irvine also enquired about Portsmouth midfielder Richard Hughes but has ruled out a move due to the player’s wages.
Midfielder Tommy Miller, meanwhile, has been ruled out for four to six weeks by a hamstring injury.