Sheffield Wednesday’s new owner, Dejphon Chansiri, will back head coach Stuart Gray in the loan market in a bid to rescue their stuttering season.
A six-game winless streak means Thai businessman Chansiri – who bought the Owls in a £30m deal a fortnight ago – has yet to see his new team win as owner.
The latest failure to improve on an embarrassing Hillsborough record of just three Championship wins all season came on Saturday with this stalemate against struggling Brighton.
The Owls, who struggled to master a woeful Hillsborough pitch, were booed off at half-time and full-time by home fans starved of entertainment and goals. Wednesday have only managed eight goals in 16 home games, or 24 hours of football, this campaign.
The injury problems are also mounting for Gray.
Before kick-off, captain Glenn Loovens was ruled out for eight weeks with a fractured ankle after a training ground clash.
Then midfield enforcer Jose Semedo limped off with an ankle injury in the first half, before on-loan Manchester United striker Will Keane exited at half-time with knee ligament damage.
The forward, who opened his Owls account in the previous week’s 1-1 draw with Cardiff City, left Hillsborough in a knee brace and was due to have a scan yesterday.
It all left Gray – who met Chansiri for the first time on Thursday to discuss the club’s plans for promotion back to the Premier League – resigned to entering the emergency loan market.
“I had a meeting with the owner. They are in it for the long haul,” said Gray.
“Short-term, they are willing to support me and back me. Long-term, they are willing to support me and back me. Both on and off the pitch.
“One thing they do know is they are going to have to spend a few bob on that pitch in the summer. By long-term, I mean the training ground facilities and the Academy. It’s the whole club.”
On the injuries, Gray added: “Semedo struggled with his ankle, it’s blown up. Will Keane has medial ligament damage so we had to bring him off. Unfortunately, we found out – for some reason they didn’t pick up in the first scan – Glenn Loovens has a crack in his ankle so will be out for six to eight weeks.
“It’s a big blow for Glenn, and a blow for us. Very frustrating.
“But what the owners have said is they will support me to bring players in, but at the moment it’s through the emergency window.
“It looks like we are going to have to go back into that market to strengthen the team.
“The owners have said ‘Look, Stuart, we will do everything we can to help this football club’.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a centre-half, centre-forward or midfield players.
“With the emergency window now open, they are willing to support me, then we will sit down regarding the budget for next season, what players we want to bring into this football club and take us forward.”
After beating Nottingham Forest last month, the Owls were six points off the top six and optimism was high they could gatecrash the play-offs.
Six games without a win have seen that confidence vanish, and Gray is desperate to end that winless sequence and ease the pressure on the team and himself.
“It’s a results business,” he admitted. “I know that the stats say drawn three, lost three, no wins in six.
“The only way you can get rid of that stat is by winning a game.
“We go to Derby on Saturday, an opportunity for us to play on a good pitch, to play through the thirds and get this win we are after.”
In truth, the Owls had numerous chances to bury Brighton on Saturday.
The opening 45 minutes were “dull” even by Gray’s own admission, but Keane and Sergiu Bus both had near-post headers, from excellent crosses from Liam Palmer, well saved by goalkeeper David Stockdale.
After the break, Wednesday dominated for long spells, but could not score.
Three times Kieran Lee went close, only to be denied by Stockdale and a superb recovery tackle from Inigo Calderon.
But the chance of the game came in the 89th minute, after left-back Jeremy Helan raced down the flank, beating three Brighton players with his pace.
The Frenchman’s cross found substitute Atdhe Nuhiu, who slipped his marker, but from eight yards out in front of goal blazed over the bar to a chorus of groans and disbelief.
Gray blamed the pitch, claiming the ball popped up as Nuhiu went to shoot.
“At the end, the chance that Atdhe has created for himself, he’s gone to side-foot it in; suddenly the ball has bobbled and it’s ended up going off his shin, which is very frustrating,” said Gray.
“On a normal pitch he would just stroke that in because he has created the chance excellently. Kieran Lee has had two or three good chances to get us in front.
“It’s Groundhog Day. We had it against Cardiff, where we dominated the ball and possession, and chances.”
One of the positives Gray can take from Saturday was the return of centre-back Kamil Zayatte. The 29-year-old has just got back from African Nations Cup duty with Guinea, but it was his first Owls game in over four months.
Another plus point was keeping a clean sheet, Wednesday’s 16th of the campaign, although eight of those have ended up as 0-0 stalemates.