Preston v Sheffield Wednesday Jordan Rhodes hoping to end his frustration with arrival of Tony Pulis

Garry Monk is “a nice man” according to Jordan Rhodes, but he certainly made the Sheffield Wednesday striker’s life less enjoyable. The Owls’ record signing will not be the only player looking forward to a fresh start at Preston North End today.
Sheffield Wednesday striker Jordan Rhodes   Pictures: Steve EllisSheffield Wednesday striker Jordan Rhodes   Pictures: Steve Ellis
Sheffield Wednesday striker Jordan Rhodes Pictures: Steve Ellis

It will be Tony Pulis’s first game as manager after replacing Monk during the international break.

Monk was certainly up front with the players he did not rate. Sam Hutchinson was released after being told he was not part of the plan. Keiren Westwood was also told to train with the Under-23s but with another year on his contract, remained at Hillsborough despite not being included on the official squad list. He has now been added, and looks set to make his first appearance of the season at Deepdale.

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The treatment of Rhodes was not quite as severe, but he still only started seven Championship matches for Monk, despite a hat-trick – against Nottingham Forest – in one of them. With Pulis casting doubt on whether centre-forward is, as Monk thought, Callum Paterson’s best position, he could be another given a new lease of life this afternoon.

Owls goalkeeper Keiren Westwood.Owls goalkeeper Keiren Westwood.
Owls goalkeeper Keiren Westwood.

It has certainly not panned out as Rhodes expected when he became Wednesday’s £8m record signing three years, 40 league starts and 12 goals ago.

“(The last couple of years have been) incredibly frustrating,” he admits. “I’ve been working as hard as I can in training, off the field I’ve been trying to take myself to almost a happy place.

“I’ve had some real lows and it’s been really difficult. It’s probably been the hardest (period) of my career so far but I’m working as hard as I can to try and be the best person I can and the best player I can and hopefully there’s a few more years left in me yet.

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“As a footballer you want to play 90 minutes week in, week out. I think I’m quite within my rights to say so. Now there’s a new manager there are possibilities.”

If there is bitterness towards Monk, it is well hidden.

“It was pretty good,” says Rhodes of their relationship, “he was a nice man. He was fair to me in the things he did say. It’s unfortunate people lose their jobs in this industry.”

Considering they have not kicked a ball, it has been an eventful fortnight for the Owls.

“It’s been a turbulent international break, having a plan under the old manager, coming in on days when you didn’t think you were going to be and off on days when you didn’t think you were going to be off, so for the lads who have families far away it’s been a bit topsy-turvy,” reflects Rhodes.

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“But we’ve always had the mentality of getting down to work and doing what we can on the days we’ve been in and now the manager’s in and we’ve got the Preston game coming up, all the mentality is geared towards trying to do as well as we can there.

“I think everyone tried their best under the previous manager. I’d be lying to say anyone downed tools, we absolutely didn’t. We were committed right until the end under the old regime.

“Thommo (Under-23 coach Neil Thompson) took a couple of good sessions towards the end of last week and the mentality and the work hasn’t changed but everyone’s just eager to impress and hopefully with games coming thick and fast, everyone will have the chance to impress (in matches) at some point.”

Pulis’s appointment has not been universally welcomed, thanks to his reputation as a long-ball manager.

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“You get pigeon-holed at times,” says Pulis, who appointed former Sheffield United and Rotherham United player Mike Trusson as his assistant yesterday. “When I was at Stoke we had Crouchie (Peter Crouch), Kenwyne Jones, (Mamady) Sidebe, (Matthew) Etherington and (Jermaine) Pennant – we played to those strengths, got the ball forward, got it wide and got lots of crosses in the box and played very, very direct football which suited that team.

“At West Brom, I had Bobby Brown and two little forwards who couldn’t play that way so we played through the pitch quickly with smaller passes. I had (Chris) Brunt, (James) Morrison and (Craig) Gardner (who also joined the Owls coaching staff this week) who were good footballers but we still played the way I like playing and that is through the pitch when you get the opportunity. That’s what I’ll try and do here.

“I will look to find a way that suits the team and try and play to that. I expect the players to be committed and work as hard as they possibly can. We will set our stall out to put a system in place that suits the lads who are at this football club at this present moment. Supporters want to go to football because they enjoy football but they love their team winning and they’re passionate about their team winning.

“The difference between playing football and winning football is massive. The players have got to recognise we’ve got to play a way which is entertaining but also winning games.

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“When I see entertaining I mean getting crosses into the box, getting shots off and being really, really positive in our play.”

More goals are certainly needed after just six so far this season. Rhodes will be desperate for a chance to prove he can provide a solution.

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