Mandaric feels he was right to sack Megson but keep Jones

CHAIRMAN Milan Mandaric believes the last 12 months have vindicated his decision to sack former Sheffield Wednesday manager Gary Megson.

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of Wednesday’s 1-0 Steel City derby win over United, which proved to be Megson’s last game in charge of his boyhood club.

Chris O’Grady’s goal was decisive and proved to be the pivotal moment of the season as Wednesday went on an unbeaten run which saw them pip the Blades to automatic promotion on the final day of the season.

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Axing Megson, a lifelong fan, former player and a man whose father Don captained the club in the Sixties, was hugely controversial but Mandaric believes promotion under successor Dave Jones justified his decision.

Only two wins in 19 games stretched Mandaric’s patience before Christmas, but he backed Jones and that faith has been repaid with an impressive return of just one defeat in their last 12 Championship games.

Mandaric said he refused to panic and sack Jones – a test of “how weak the chairman is not to concede to some of the outside influences” – believing the former Cardiff City and Southampton manager would deliver Championship safety this season.

“I resisted some of those wobbling times when people thought I should make the change,” said Mandaric. “I surprised a lot of people because they label me as someone who easily changes the manager. But they don’t understand, all my changes were done for what was best for the club at that time.

“I don’t like to make changes, but if it’s needed I will make changes with no difficulty, as I demonstrated towards the end of last season.

“The majority of supporters stayed calm, didn’t panic, because I think they trusted me. I know what needs to be done, and they left it in my hands. It was a difficult time and I needed their support.

“Today tells the story, it was the right thing to do. Dave is an experienced manager who will take us where we want to go and I am glad we did what we did.

“As I always said, my decisions are based on what is best for the club going forward, avoiding the up-and-down situations which the club has had for the last decade or so.

“I resisted that, Dave is a good strong manager, he is very experienced. We all run into difficulties, especially if we don’t hit the right recruitment. Dave is the first one to raise his hand on that, but we knew we had a good manager. I know we will sort things out.”

Mandaric believes Wednesday’s early struggles were partly due to the club’s summer signings failing to gel.

But since beating Barnsley in mid-December, Wednesday have not looked back, and have picked up impressive wins against promotion-chasing Hull City, Brighton and Crystal Palace in recent weeks.

“Things didn’t go well for us (at start of season) mainly because of gelling some new players into the team,” he said. “We worked very hard, especially Dave, seeing what needed to be done and corrected things.

“We are a little bit down (the table) but are making it up now, and as I always said, the key this year is stabilisation. That’s what the club needs more than anything else.

“We need to give something back to the supporters for their tremendous support and loyalty. That means staying up, consolidate, and making up a platform to build up for next season.”

The Owls only trail Brighton in average attendances this season in the division and Mandaric believes that adds to the pressure to bring the good times back to Hillsborough.

“It puts positive pressure on me, we need to move the club forward,” he said. “It can’t stay where it is, but at least needs to stabilise and show the supporters we are going to build on that and do better next season.

“I didn’t come here to maintain where we are, I have demonstrated that already. We cleaned the club and have a good team off the field, a competitive one on it, and we just need to build on that.

“You have to do it for your supporters, they are the ones who own the club at the end of the day.”

Mandaric remains open that he will eventually walk away from Hillsborough, but insists he will leave the club in far better shape than when he rescued it from the brink of administration over two years ago.

“The time will come when I will finish my journey, when things are in good shape, better shape than when I took it over,” he said. “It doesn’t mean I will leave tomorrow, but it’s a possibility one day I will go away.

“But when that happens the club will be left in good shape and in good hands. I came here to do good, positive things for this club and I am not going to let it go until I see those things happen.

“Next season is just round the corner, there’s only two months left now in this season so it goes fast and will start to think about that very soon.”