Garry Monk has changed his Christmas Day routine this year.
Normally, Sheffield Wednesday’s manager would spend the 25th on the training ground, in this case preparing for a Championship trip to Stoke City. This year’s deserted training ground shows the trust he and his players have quickly built in one another.
“I sat with group about a month ago and worked out a plan we thought could benefit them,” explains Monk, who is set to be without Fernando Forestieri until the new year.
“The plan was for them to be at home on Christmas Day with a little bit of physical detail to do at home, then we’ll travel on the afternoon to the hotel.
“They told me for the last four seasons they’d had Christmas Day off and done reasonably well on the Boxing Day.
“I’ve always trained on Christmas Day but each group’s different. You need to find how you can get them to a better place.
“They’re adults and you have to work on trust. The only time that ever changes is when they show you any different.
“A lot of this period’s about freshness, you actually can’t do much training anyway.
“It’s part of my job to work quickly to understand them and during training and matches particularly you see different scenarios they have to overcome. You look at them to see who deals with what situations how and I’m still constantly learning.
“You look for who takes responsibility well, who doesn’t, who likes accountability, who you need to help take more. Everyone’s fighting hard for each other and supporting each other.
“Results are the only thing that ever get you longevity but when you accept that, it’s easier.”
Forestieri’s ongoing knee problem is Monk’s only concern.
“(Steven) Fletcher’s still (suffering) a little bit, but we’re very hopeful,” says Monk. “Foxy (Morgan Fox) is fine. It was just an impact on his eye, he had a bit of blurred vision, that’s why we took him off (in the 1-0 win over Bristol City).
“Fernando, it’s just still niggly. It will probably be the new year (before he plays again).”
Last six: Stoke City LLLWDL; Sheffield Wednesday DWWDWW.
Referee: J Brooks (Leicestershire).
Last time: Stoke City 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0, March 30, 2019, Championship.