For a manager under pressure, Dave Jones cut a decidedly untroubled figure yesterday.
He has felt the heat before, never more so than at Cardiff City, when he was challenging for promotion.
So as he looked ahead to his return to South Wales tomorrow, with his position on the frontlines of his current employers coming increasingly into question, there was an air of a man who had seen and heard it all before.
Sheffield Wednesday might be heading in one direction, back from where they came, after a run of just two wins in 17 games, but Jones remains bullish about his record and his side’s chances of turning things around.
The general theme of his pre-match press conference yesterday was that he sticks by his players, there is no split in the dressing room and he will never quit.
He also suggested, with some justification, that he is a victim of his own success, that supporters are comparing what the Owls did in his first 19 games in charge – when they stormed to promotion and started this season as if they meant to keep rising – to their current predicament.
“This club had been in the doldrums for not just six months, not just a year, a long time,” said Jones.
“What we are trying to do here is build and stabilise and sometimes you go through the bad times.
“This club has been through plenty of bad times. The fans are only remembering the long unbeaten run, getting promoted and everything else.
“But we’ve come up to a completely different animal (Championship) than what it was three or four years ago and we’re trying to move on with it, and that will take a lot of guts from the people here, and stability.
“I haven’t got enough fingers and toes to count how many managers there’s been here in the last 15 years.”
On the question of whether there are divisions in the dressing room, between the players he recruited in the summer and the ones he inherited, Jones said: “There’s no split.
“They’re the tick-box questions you always get. Have you lost the dressing room?
“Because a team’s losing that’s the first thing that gets thrown at the players, at the staff, at the chairman.
“Just because you’re losing football matches doesn’t mean you’re not together. It might be that they’re making mistakes, but they make mistakes together and they do the right things together.
“You cannot just blame someone and isolate him. It’s a team game and that’s what we’re trying to introduce.
“Because things have gone so well at this football club over the last 12 months as soon as you hit any sort of problems then you get asked the questions.
“When it’s going well, why is there not a split? You don’t have to like somebody to work with them, what you have to do is respect what they do.
“These are players that respect each other and that’s what a dressing room is all about.”
When results are poor a manager’s signings are called into question, and among high-profile acquisitions like Martin Taylor and Jay Bothroyd, the consensus is that Jones has yet to deliver the fresh impetus a quality signing brings.
“I stand by the signings I’ve made,” he said. “Whether they’ve delivered what you expected them to deliver.
“Everyone has an opinion. I’m the one who made the decision and I stand by that. If it hasn’t worked then it hasn’t worked and you have to move them out and bring other people in.
“Not everybody can be the top of the tree.
“Have I let the players down? If you go out onto a football pitch and give your all but they beat you, does that mean you’ve let the fans down?
“They don’t mean to go out and lose football matches and that’s why I’ll back them and I’ll fight for them and I’ll defend them whether they’re making mistakes or not.
“I have belief in the players I have here. If I don’t believe in them, they won’t believe in themselves.
“They are hard working but confidence is something you can’t inject, it’s something you have to earn.
“The only way you earn that is by going out and trying to be the best that you can be.”
Owls chairman Milan Mandaric has a reputation for pulling the trigger on under-achieving managers but came out in support of Jones at the start of the week.
That was before the 4-1 mauling by Watford at Hillsborough that saw them drop to second bottom of the Championship.
Jones will look to freshen things up again for tomorrow’s trip to high-flying Cardiff, with the lack of cohesion from one week to the next being one of the main issues of contention among fans.
“We’re settled on a group. It’s not just the 11 that go out it’s the three that go on as well,” said Jones, who insists players are under his microscope every day at training, not just for 90 minutes twice a week.
“Making changes is all part and parcel of being at a football club when players aren’t playing to the best of their abilities.”
Mark Beevers looks set to leave the club permanently after the Owls accepted an offer from Millwall, for whom the defender is excelling on loan.
Jones said: “He was struggling a little bit here, he needed to go out, maybe he’s found the right club for him.”
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Weather for Yorkshire
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 11 C
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