Megson uses Kop walk to give his players a fan’s perspective

SHEFFIELD Wednesday manager Gary Megson walked his players up the Hillsborough Kop this week in a bid to cure home sickness.

The move paid instant dividends with the club recording back-to-back home wins for the first time in four months and virtually securing League One survival.

Megson, who watched the Owls from the Kop as a boy, feels the exercise helped his players develop a better understanding of fans’ frustrations. Over the last few months, the Owls had been struggling to cope with the pressure of playing at Hillsborough and the threat of relegation had sparked tension in the stands.

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Thanks to victories over Colchester and Tranmere, the Owls are now sitting nine points clear of the bottom four with six to play ahead of tomorrow’s trip to leaders Brighton and Hove Albion.

“We were just trying to show the players what the supporters see,” said Megson. “It is really strange when you hear that players ‘don’t like’ playing at Hillsborough or ‘it’s difficult’ and there’s too much expectation. When you get it right, there is no better place to play your football in the world. We had a little talk with the players and then I walked them three quarters of the way up the Kop.

“You should have seen their faces. There were a few open mouths and the reaction of them seeing it was a good sign,” he added. “It was also quite an eye-opener that none of them had been up there or seen it from that perspective. When you see the ground from that angle, it is entirely different. It really is magnificent.”

The Owls have reached the 50 point mark so often cited as a target for safety but Megson says it should make no difference to performances between now and the end of the season. The club has a number of out-of-contract players fighting for new deals including striker Neil Mellor, midfielders James O’Connor and Tommy Miller and Jermaine Johnson.

“I know we have 50 points but it is not a case of safe yet or not,” said Megson, “Even if we are safe, we are still looking for performances and results.”

Although Megson fielded an unchanged side against Tranmere, he has not ruled out changes against Brighton. Rob Jones could return after missing two games with concussion and Joey O’Brien, on loan from Bolton, could replace Miller who has developed a sore hamstring.