Jose SEMEDO has hailed Stuart Gray as the best coach he has worked under as the two men look to maintain Sheffield Wednesday’s recent revival.
The Owls have pulled nine points clear of the Championship’s relegation zone amid a run of 11 games without defeat, eight of which have come in the league.
Gray has masterminded the resurgence since succeeding sacked Dave Jones in December, but has always given his players the praise for the upturn in fortunes. However, Portuguese-born midfielder Semedo, who was ostracised by Jones, says Wednesday’s form owes much to Gray’s man-management.
“The atmosphere under this manager is better because he used to work with every player, those who played and those who didn’t,” said Semedo, who alleviated the Owls’ defensive crisis last Saturday by dropping back to help them beat Reading.
“He treats everybody the same. As soon as he got the job everybody felt important again, whether you’d been playing or you hadn’t.
“That is the big difference about the dressing room because everybody feels part of it.
“Stuart will treat a player like Chris Kirkland, who is our most experienced and I believe our best player, exactly the same as a guy like Kieran Lee, who has come up from the Under-21s.
“He is a top, top coach. His training sessions are very demanding and they are played in a good atmosphere. You go away from training thinking ‘this man knows the game’.
“For me, he’s the best coach I’ve ever had because he knows about training, he knows what to demand of players, how to work with them, how to talk to them.”
For his part, Gray is concentrating on keeping his players focused on steering the Owls further away from trouble.
Tonight’s fixture is the one that was abandoned in December when Wigan were all over Wednesday and 1-0 up.
“It’s a bonus game for us,” said Gray, “and it’s a different team to the one that faced Wigan back in December.”
Wednesday hope to receive international clearance today on the loan signing of 20-year-old defender Adedeji Oshilaja from Cardiff City. The clubs have agreed terms and Oshilaja trained with the Owls yesterday.
“He’s not the biggest, but he’s got a good spring and he reads the game very well,” said Gray, who is also closing in on another defensive target. Glenn Loovens is expected to return tonight.
Last six games: Sheff Wed WDWDWW; Wigan DLWWDL.
Last time: Sheff Wed 2 Wigan 0; Jan 30, 1976; FA Cup (Sheff Wed 0 Wigan 1, abandoned; December 18, 2013; Championship).
Referee: D Webb (County Durham).