Gray the man for Owls despite failure to beat minnows

Stuart Gray
Stuart Gray
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Stuart Gray is expected to be given the manager’s job on a permanent basis when he meets chairman Milan Mandaric tomorrow.

The caretaker chief has overseen a steady revival of fortunes since succeeding Dave Jones at the start of December.

Wednesday have won three of the seven league games Gray has taken charge of, climbing out of the bottom three of the Championship in the process.

Saturday’s FA Cup draw at non-League Macclesfield Town is not believed to have done his chances too much damage.

Gray said after the game that his future would be decided in a meeting with Mandaric tomorrow. Having been afforded such a long spell in temporary charge and with the January transfer window now entering its second week, it is unlikely that Mandaric will want to shake up the apple cart again.

It is understood Gray will be given the job until the end of the season with the obvious aim of maintaining the club’s Championship status.

Once the decision is made, Gray hopes to get to work on strengthening a squad that looked short of quality again at Moss Rose.

Gray is in talks with Wolves to re-sign defender Roger Johnson on loan, while extending the deal for midfielder Stephen McPhail – whose contract expires in the middle of this month – is also part of his plan.

“At the moment, he’s still with us and that’s down to Stephen and the club to negotiate,” said Withernsea-born Gray, 53, who has had twice as many caretaking jobs as he has full-time appointments.

Of Johnson, Gray added: “Hopefully that will be sorted before we play Leeds United at home next Saturday.”

Wednesday were held to a 1-1 draw at Moss Rose, with Steve Williams cancelling out Reda Johnson’s first-half header.

A replay at Hillsborough was the least Macclesfield deserved from a game in which they had the better of the chances against a team three divisions above them.

Gray said: “I enjoyed the way we played in the first half when we got the ball down and passed it. We knew they’d be direct from right to left and we seemed to neutralise that.

“But, in the second half, we were disappointing. It was just our decision-making which was poor, whether we didn’t get close enough when closing down, or we didn’t stop crosses getting into the box.”

A midfield player or left-back, Gray began his career at Nottingham Forest and also played for Barnsley, Aston Villa and Southampton, where he moved into coaching and where he enjoyed a short spell as manager.

He was employed in coaching roles at Wolves, Villa and Crystal Palace before becoming manager of Northampton Town from 2007-09.

Gray then had caretaker-manager spells in charge of Burnley and Portsmouth before being reunited with Jones, whom he had worked under at Southampton and Wolves, at Hillsborough in December, 2012.

Sheffield Wednesday FA Cup report: Page 5.