At times this season, Sheffield Wednesday’s manager has struggled to hide his disappointment with the ageing squad he inherited, and with 10 senior players out of contract, his first summer at Hillsborough offers a chance to do something about it.
Two months in lockdown has given Monk time to do far more research on the players he would like to sign than he would have been granted in the hustle and bustle of a Championship season, but he is planning in the dark.
With football, like just about every other walk of life, thrown into so much uncertainty by coronavirus, and with a possible transfer embargo and/or points deduction hanging over his club, second-guessing what he will be able to do next season is virtually impossible.
“That work continues, because you do that anyway throughout the season,” says Monk. “But what does change is that no-one knows what the situation is going to be. No-one knows what kind of financial plan they can put in place, because we don’t even know if we are finishing the season or not. The focus is on that, and what it’s going to look like at the end of that in terms of the squad and stuff like that.
“For the club, it’s about trying to understand what you could potentially spend or invest in players.
“In terms of being able to understand the reality of who can come in, who can’t, who’s ready or who’s available, I don’t think any club is at that stage at the moment.”
Some might be reasonably satisfied under the circumstances to tweak this season’s squad for 2020-21, but for footballing and financial reasons, Wednesday need an overhaul.
“The club has to try and understand what the financial future is for itself, which I still think for most clubs is bit unclear, and try and put some sort of strategy of what they think financially the future is going to be and what they can afford to do,” comments Monk.
“I think the clubs are still working through that to understand if there are to be new contracts for anyone, what we can actually do from a financial point of view. It’s a concern in the sense of (the season) going beyond that point (June 30, when contracts expire), because it’s quite a large number in our squad.
“I think we have got to respect the fact that the club needs to have a little bit of time to understand what it can and can’t do. With a bit of time, that clarification will come through and we will know exactly where we stand.”
Monk seems unflustered at having to think on his feet, though.
“It’s not easy but it’s not easy for anyone,” he shrugs. “We’ve just got to make the best of it.
“We’re trying to keep the right recruitment process in place in terms of watching players, understanding what positions you’d like and just being ready.
“We’ll try to cover all the spectrums whether you can’t spend a penny or if it’s loans, it’s frees, you can spend X amount or another amount, and just be ready for that when that directive comes and the club’s more clear.
“I’ve got experience of trying to prepare for different scenarios at my other clubs, especially last year with Birmingham where there was not clarity on what we were going to do or the timeframe and we tried to be ready for any eventuality. I think that’s just what a good process should look like.
“I’ve tried to have the talks and work with the recruitment team to just be ready, really. You should do that anyway as a football club, cover all eventualities, all types of markets so something isn’t sprung on you and you have to play catch-up.”
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