Not the time to "pick holes in players" for Garry Monk at Sheffield Wednesday

Garry Monk
Garry Monk
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Garry Monk has thrown a protective arm around his players at Sheffield Wednesday.

There was a theme running through Thursday’s pre-match press conference from Owls manager Monk.

Several times he insisted he would not “pick holes in players” as the Owls emerge from a tricky run of games.

Of the five matches - pinned together between the two international breaks - the Owls have won just once in the first four outings, ahead of Swansea City’s visit to Hillsborough on Saturday.

Wednesday may sit seventh in the Championship, but frustrations have mounted after being held to draws by Cardiff City and Leeds United, then throwing away three points from a winning position after 83 minutes at Blackburn Rovers last weekend.

Substitute Jacob Murphy netted at Ewood Park, but Owls fans have yet to see the form from the on-loan winger which prompted Newcastle United to pay £12m for his services in 2017.

Likewise, midfielder Adam Reach has struggled to match the performances - and goals output - from last season. He has netted just once this term, compared to five by the end of October last season.

Those two are certainly not alone, in terms of reaching maximum potential this term, but asked if he was concerned at Reach’s form this season, Monk replied: “I am not concerned at all. I am not here to pick holes in players, I will let other people do that. I am here to help them.

“Of course I know what needs to improve, but I sit with these players and show them their mistakes, and what their strengths are.

“My job is to give them belief and support them. Just because of setbacks, I am not going to focus on that, there is no need to, that would be a silly thing to do. I will let everyone else worry about that.

“All I can say is the players are giving everything every day, they are committed, and that’s the most important thing for me. Fans can relate to that, if they see people put in effort and commitment.”

Defensively, Wednesday have impressed this season - before that late collapse at Ewood Park - but it is in attack where they have struggled for goals.

Apart from striker Steven Fletcher, the Owls are lacking goals from all areas of the team.

But Monk has confidence his players will deliver.

“You have to show trust and belief in the players, and I believe in all of them,” he said.

“But then there’s also times when you need to rotate, put freshness in, and that’s the challenge of a Championship season.

“You can change a player, and people might say that’s related to form, but not always.

“If a player was going 10-15 games and not performing, that’s a different scenario. But none of these players have been through a period where we have had that type of situation. You must trust them and select a team to try and win that game. That comes from my decisions and their attitudes.”

Two late goals from Tosin Adarabioyo and John Buckley gift-wrapped Blackburn the victory last weekend.

Monk, though, is experienced enough to appreciate Wednesday’s problems are not due to a lack of effort but accepts his side must improve if they are to challenge for a top-six finish.

“You want to do your best in every game, but it’s a difficult league,” said Monk, in charge at Hillsborough for just 10 games.

“As a manager you go through games with players, correct things, show players what they are doing well, what we are not doing well and need to improve.

“But this group are prepared to give everything and they have done that since I came in. That cannot be questioned, their effort and commitment.

“We have all seen that, the results that we have had. But, as any team, you will have setbacks, that’s football, that’s the Championship.

“We need to improve, we all know that. These lads have given everything they have got, my view is to be positive with them, back them and give them belief, not to pick holes in them.

“Of course it’s my job to help them understand things they need to get better at.

“But if we want to back this team to do well - and I think any Sheffield Wednesday supporter would tell you that - we need to get right behind them, not sit and try and pick holes in them. We need to back them, through thick and thin, good games and bad games.”