Birmingham City v Sheffield Wednesday - Monk on familiar ground in bid to ‘control the controllables’

JUST as he wore the equivalent of a hard hat during his time at Birmingham City, so Garry Monk must now don the same when he heads to the away dugout at St Andrew’s instead of the home one this afternoon.

This time last year, Monk’s Blues were negotiating their Championship fulfilments while being conscious of the backdrop of chatter about an impending points deduction from English Football League overlords.

That duly arrived last March when the Midlanders were hit with a nine-point deduction and pitted into a relegation battle after being found guilty of breaking the EFL spending rules.

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Fast forward 12 months and the mood music for the Owls revolves around a potential points punishment if they are found guilty of misconduct over the sale of Hillsborough.

Plenty to think about for Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk after another defeat. (Picture: Steve Ellis)

Late last week, Sky Sports claimed that “a number of Championship clubs” were demanding serious action following owner Dejphon Chansiri’s purchase of the ground.

Now, just as then, Monk is ‘controlling the controllables’ and his players will follow suit.

The Owls chief said: “Our duty is to focus on the football.

“I have not had anything where I can see that (off-the-field situation) is going to have an effect.

Birmingham City manager Garry Monk (left) and assistant manager Pep Clotet back last year (Picture: PA)

“Of course they (players) will read things and put that in the back of their mind.

“I had experience of that at Birmingham, but our duty is to focus on the football and the job we have here and now, which is putting a stop to that cycle that we are in.”

That cycle centres around an alarming downturn since Christmas and it is small wonder that Monk is calling on his confidence-sapped side to get back to basics before formulating what he hopes will be a concerted recovery.

If the under-fire manager requires inspiration, it should arrive from the first eight Championship games of his tenure at Wednesday, while being far from spectacular, forged the Owls’’ reputation as being hard to beat.

In that initial spell, the Owls conceded just four goals.

By way of a contrast, Monk’s side have shipped 13 goals in their past eight league outings.

Monk, who could welcome back top-scorer Steven Fletcher and Morgan Fox today, said: “I think we can all agree we have lost games too easily and that defensive solidity that we had before – I think we were the third best defensively in the league.

“We had solidity in our performances and we have not had that in this period. That is something we have to rectify.

“Offensively, we were also one of the highest in terms of creating chances and getting opportunities and we have not had both in this period. It is about working on both and trying to give them a clear way in how to do it.

“The ultimate belief and confidence-booster is results. If we can get that win, however that comes, or get that result that stops the cycle we are in, then that is how you will start to see it.

“My job is to give them as much encouragement as much belief as possible and clarity in their roles to go onto that pitch and deliver.”