Swansea City v Sheffield Wednesday - ‘I deserved criticism’ but Garry Monk is confident he can revive Owls

ACCEPTING criticism, taking personal responsibility and fighting back is something that Garry Monk will always do.

Owls manager Garry Monk. Picture: Steve Ellis

The sight of his Sheffield Wednesday players starting to do the same is something that he is particularly enthused about seeing in the here and now.

This is not a straightforward time for the club – firmly in transition and between eras on the pitch with uncertainty prevalent behind the scenes.

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Only this week, reports emerged that some Wednesday players had not been paid in full in June, while the club’s ongoing case with the EFL over charges of breaching profitability and sustainability rules has been lingering in the background for a considerable amount of time.

A difficult year at every level also saw the Owls embark on a horrific run of form in the New Year, but for Monk, it is not about dealing in excuses.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s trip to former club Swansea City, the Owls chief said: “Quite rightly so, I deserved criticism in that last (pre-lockdown) period.

“I am the manager of the football club and those players and I had to take it on the chin and I did.

“I will always fight back. If the patience is shown and I get the time to do it here, I will give them (supporters) a team to be proud of and I am more than confident of that and that is not being an arrogant person.

“I have trust in myself I can deliver that and I have trust in how the squad is doing.”

A starting point of any fightback is accountability and there are at least some signs that Wednesday players are starting to front up in that department and not feel sorry for themselves.

That mindset starts from the manager.

“I have never had that mentality,” Monk observed.

“There has been disappointments and big things that can affect your emotions. But you have to fight back in all situations.

“We are winning, you have to fight to keep winning and when you are losing, you have to fight back. You need to have that in you and that is what a changing room needs.

“We have to keep shaping that. It is not going to be magically all solved going into the start of next season. It is going to take time. But the shift has already started and I have got to enhance that.

“The key is to have that fight and take disappointment and have accountability and responsibility for themselves.”

With the likes of Steven Fletcher, Sam Hutchinson, Fernando Forestieri and Morgan Fox having now left the club and Keiren Westwood also on the periphery, Monk is right in his assumption that it is the time for other dressing-room figures to emerge.

The Owls’ run on the restart may have yielded a win, draw and a loss, but the overwhelming picture has been a positive one.

Perversely, that was displayed in a losing cause on Wednesday night. Defeated 3-0 at home to high-flying West Brom they may have been, but the margin of victory for the visitors was flattering and the sight of the Owls players going to the end and not letting their heads drop was a departure from the recent past

Detecting changes in mentality, Monk said: “It is not everything we want, but there has definitely been a shift towards it.

“We have had that reflection in lockdown and the majority of the group have shown a bit of a different attitude.

“There are still bits in terms of leaning back, but that mentality is to try and push through it. We saw a little bit of the good side of it against (Nottingham) Forest.

“For all the good play, we knew we should have been winning. But then we were in a position to lose it and came fighting back.

“That showed there is that capability there and even in the game against West Brom, we never gave up.

“At 2-0, we hit the post and could have been in a different game and went close at the end.

“That is the mentality you need, no matter what situation on the pitch. I do not think we have done that well enough across the season, especially in that second part.

“It is me knowing a dressing room and I know what that (successful) mentality looks like and it is my job to try and show the players that.”

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