Sheffield Wednesday's Callum Paterson on secret to the success of Danny Rohl - the Owls' own 'Special One'

WITH experienced footballers, first impressions count when you are the new manager on the block.

More especially when you arrive as the youngest in the English Football League.

In that regard, Sheffield Wednesday’s Danny Rohl played a blinder last October to instantly command the attention and respect of a number of senior figures whose age difference between themselves and their new ‘gaffer’ was hardly vast in footballing terms.

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The rest is history, with Rohl not just getting established professionals such as Callum Paterson, captain Barry Bannan and fellow ‘old heads’ such as Liam Palmer, Michael Smith, Will Vaulks and Michael Ihiekwe on board, but energising them.

The Special One: Sheffield Wednesday head coach Danny Rohl. Photo by Ben Roberts Photo/Getty Images.The Special One: Sheffield Wednesday head coach Danny Rohl. Photo by Ben Roberts Photo/Getty Images.
The Special One: Sheffield Wednesday head coach Danny Rohl. Photo by Ben Roberts Photo/Getty Images.

The culmination of Rohl’s revolution last season arrived on Wearside in early May when Wednesday completed a staggering Championship safety mission which they simply had no right to achieve before the German arrived.

Rohl soon won a key figure in Bannan over with the Owls talismanic leader gushing in his verdict of the 34-year-old, who he labelled as the best manager he had worked under in his career, while unequivocally adding that he ‘was destined for the top.’

High praise indeed, with Paterson - five-and-a-half years the junior of Rohl - also quickly impressed when the seeds for Wednesday’s remarkable resurgence were sown last autumn by their own version of ‘The Special One’.

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The mark of a top coach is someone who can assess a situation fast - more especially in a difficult situation - and provide a clear and cogent tactical plan to buy into in double-quick time, even if it might not necessarily be in the style they would ideally favour. You work with what you have got.

Rohl did just that with his pressing methods and strict positional plans for players in attacking positions going down well with the Championship’s second-oldest squad in 2023-24 - who soon realised that the Owls chief was someone who knew what he was doing and could be trusted.

At times, the work was long and repetitive, but ultimately rewarding in the final analysis.

On the impact of Rohl, who learnt his craft under the likes of Hansi Flick, Niko Kovac and Ralph Hasenhuttl, Paterson said: “It’s what he demands. He came in on the first day and said ‘this is what I want - A, B, C, X, Y, Z’.

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"There’s no blurred lines. He knows what he wants and got all of us believing in it and the way he works. His coaches are exactly the same.

"I’ve had experienced managers and really young managers like Ian Cathro at Hearts - and he had totally different ideas. People say ‘the old school’ and ‘new school’ manager. But I think it’s whatever gets the players on board.

"Danny came in with his style and the boys bought into it. It’s definitely a lot more tactical and longer training sessions, with more information and things like that (than before).

"He’s got his own style and has worked with the best managers in the world and ideas from different coaches and he’s taken things from them.”