DAVE JONES last night issued a plea for unity after replacing Gary Megson as manager of Sheffield Wednesday.
Former Cardiff City and Wolves boss Jones arrived at Hillsborough less than 48 hours after Megson’s controversial sacking by chairman Milan Mandaric.
The decision to axe Megson has angered Owls supporters – coming just three days after victory in the Steel City derby.
Mandaric revealed that he contacted Jones about the job prior to Megson’s final game in charge.
Jones, who will watch today’s game at Rochdale from the stands, will now need to pacify the punters and keep the club’s push for promotion on track.
“All that matters now is the team and getting enough points to get out of this division,” he said. “I am not stupid and I understand how raw everything is – but I didn’t cause it and I hope the fans get right behind me. The ship has been rocked and now we have got to keep it as even as we can.
“If I had turned down the job, someone else would be sitting here,” he stressed. “It wasn’t my decision and it was a decision that I know the chairman took a lot of time and turmoil to make.
“My job now is to try and keep the team winning from the last game and move it forward so I am asking, like any manager would do sitting here, for supporters to keep supporting the team.
“I have got to win the supporters over whatever position they are in. And that is by getting results because I am in a results business.”
Confirmation of Mandaric’s intention to sack Megson after the derby, regardless of the result, came during a tense press conference yesterday afternoon at Hillsborough.
The Owls chairman admitted that the 1-0 defeat against bottom of the table Chesterfield eight days earlier had been the final nail in Megson’s coffin.
He opted to wait until after the derby before wielding the axe, however, due to the importance of the fixture and the disruption it might have caused to preparations.
“We won the biggest game of the season and we were celebrating. Now, all of a sudden, I am a bad chairman because I made the change,” said Mandaric.
“Why don’t you look at what happened in the previous 10 games? We were on a sliding slope with 13 games to go and I didn’t want to take the chance.
“Basically, I made the decision after Chesterfield. I asked Gary to come to see me in the office. I am telling you like it is. But it was an important week for the supporters – so I just let it go to demonstrate my commitment to the club.
“During that week my mind started to see who would be available.
“I did call David and I told him ‘This is what I’m going to be doing.’ He told me ‘Okay, chairman, when you are ready, call me and we will talk about that’.
“I didn’t come here to win a popularity contest,” added Mandaric. “I came here to do the job, to rescue a club that was down. Sometimes some of the decisions are not quite right and I correct those decisions.
“You can’t tell me what is right or what is wrong. I am the one who will pay the consequence. I am the one who, at the end of the day, will carry the bag [sic]. I am the one who, at the end of the season, will pay £5m in cash to keep the club going forward.”
Jones, out of work since leaving Cardiff last summer, was top of Mandaric’s wanted list to replace Megson.
Reflecting on the way events unfolded, Jones said: “I knew there had been a fall-out somewhere along the line.
“When the chairman asked what I was doing and would I be interested I said ‘make the change and then we will talk – if you don’t, I will wish you all the very best’. When the change had been made, he rang me again. We spoke about turmoil but the decision had been made. Emotions are always going to run high but hopefully I can get the results and soften that.”
Jones has yet to speak to Megson about the situation but insists the pair will not fall out.
“You have sympathy for anybody that is going to be out of work. I was out of work for six or seven months. That’s the environment we work in. Should I have left Cardiff after finishing third in the Championship, getting to an FA Cup final? That’s just life. We are in a results business and sometimes things happen that don’t always go to plan.
“I will speak to Gary. I have got nothing to hide,” he said. “There is no reason to fall out with each other. We are in the business where it happens. He followed me into the job at Stockport County. Now I have followed him into a job 16, 17 years later.”
The Owls, who are third, will be seeking to keep pressure on the top two when they take on Rochdale.