Takeover can help Owls’ play-off chase – McGugan

Owls manager Stuart Gray
Owls manager Stuart Gray
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Lewis McGugan is hoping the buzz created by Sheffield Wednesday’s takeover can help the Owls gatecrash the race for the Premier League.

The Owls host Cardiff City at Hillsborough today standing nine points off sixth-placed Watford.

Outgoing owner Milan Mandaric will say farewell to fans from the pitch before kick-off with his £30m sale to Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri just awaiting Football League ratification.

Chansiri has invested in the Owls with a clear mandate to reach the Premier League, and has already funded six new arrivals.

Four of those, including midfielder McGugan, who returns for a second loan spell at Hillsborough from Watford, arrived on a busy transfer deadline day on Monday.

The former Nottingham Forest midfielder – who was at the City Ground three years ago when the club was taken over by new owners – believes the arrival of Chansiri is sure to have an impact.

“Any takeover breeds confidence around the place, and brings a reaction,” McGugan told The Yorkshire Post. “That’s just normal.

“Now people here can start looking to the future. The most important thing is the football on the pitch. As long as we as players do our job, everything else can take care of itself in the background.

“I was involved at Forest when they were taken over three years ago. Everyone is human, even the players, and players are going to talk about the takeover.

“It brings a different outlook on the club. It’s a good thing, and has put the club in a positive frame of mind. Everyone is in a buoyant mood, but we still have to do our job to allow the owners to carry on with their project.”

Owls’ head coach Stuart Gray had 24 outfield players in training this week, 10 more than this stage of the season last year, and an increase in competition for places can only benefit Wednesday, believes McGugan.

Manchester United striker Will Keane and Chelsea midfielder Lewis Baker have joined McGugan in signing loan deals until the end of the season.

There were also permanent deals for Romanian striker Sergiu Bus, Manchester United defender Marnick Vermijl and Portuguese midfielder Melo Silva.

“There’s competition now, a few more players added to the squad, and that can only benefit us and breed confidence, getting people playing to the best of their ability,” said McGugan, a former England Under-19 player.

“All throughout my career I have seen that competition for the shirt brings out the best in people.

“That can only help here and give us a better opportunity (to succeed).”

Wednesday have to be outsiders to reach the play-offs – nine points adrift with 18 games remaining – but McGugan believes there is always one club in the Championship who make a late charge for the top six.

“I have been in this league long enough to know that nothing is ever certain,” said the 26-year-old, who was born in Long Eaton.

“There’s always one club that comes out of the pack and gets into the play-offs during the last couple of games.

“Every season, that is just the way the Championship is.

“We can’t look at it being nine points, we just have to look at taking care of our games. If we keeping winning our games, perform well, then we will climb the table. If we don’t then we won’t.

“We can’t be thinking too far ahead, because we just have to deliver results and see where we are.”

McGugan impressed in a seven-game loan spell in December, and Chansiri’s arrival helped pave the way for his return after falling out of favour at Watford.

He revealed he had interest from several clubs in January, but his “first option” was always a return to Hillsborough and he refused to rule out making the move permanent in the summer.

“I had seven games here before, and it was just the way the manager, staff, players were with me, and the fans were tremendous,” McGugan said. “I thought if there was the chance for me to go out and play football, Sheffield Wednesday were my first option.

“With the transfer window, there’s always interest (from other clubs), but since I left Sheffield Wednesday at the end of December it was always in my mind that I would possibly go back.

“I’m glad I got the chance to move, even if it’s just on loan, and now it’s up to me to perform and you never know what can happen in the summer.”

Following in Petrescu’s footsteps: Page 3.