Watford v Sheffield Wednesday: Josh Windass excited to learn from Danny Rohl, a student of 'elite of the elite'

For some players, football is just something that pays the bills. Not Josh Windass, a fan who also gets paid to play the game.

So when whispers started doing the rounds that Danny Rohl could be Sheffield Wednesday’s next manager, the forward went into fan mode, straight on the phone to learn more about a little-known 34-year-old.

It was time well spent because the rumour mill was on its game, and Rohl will take charge of the Owls for the first time at Watford on Saturday, with Windass fit again after aggravating a dead leg, hoping he has shown in training he has quickly understood what is required by the new manager.

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And what Windass learnt then – no thanks to his mole in Germany – and what he has since at Middlewood Road is why he has a big smile on his face, and why throughout his pre-match press conference, he cannot stop himself telling you how much he is looking forward to Vicarage Road.

Because it does not take much research to realise Rohl must have a fair idea of what he is doing.

Germany/Austria is at the forefront of churning out top coaches in the 2020s. Hansi Flick, Julian Nagelsmann, Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp are all German and Pep Guardiola – who also knows a bit about this coaching malarkey – had three years honing his skills in the Bundesliga. Yorkshire has been touched too, by David Wagner at Huddersfield Town, Valerien Ismael at Barnsley (now Watford) and now Daniel Farke with Leeds United.

The Red Bull factory is particularly renowned. Ralf Ragnick may not have covered himself in glory as Manchester United coach, but as a mentor to the likes of Tuchel, Nagelsmann, Klopp and Ralph Hasenhuttl, he arguably ranks alongside Marcelo Bielsa for his influence on world football. Now Sheffield Wednesday are getting a piece of it.

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As assistant manager to Hasenhuttl, Niko Kovac and Flick, Rohl has already worked for RB Leipzig, Southampton, Bayern Munich and Germany alongside players of the quality of Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Jamal Musiala, Timo Werner, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane and Danny Ings. Those are just the attacking ones.

EXCITEMENT: Sheffield Wednesday forward Josh WindassEXCITEMENT: Sheffield Wednesday forward Josh Windass
EXCITEMENT: Sheffield Wednesday forward Josh Windass

"One of my best friends is an assistant manager at Bayern Munich and I did text him asking if he knew about him but he's never really come across him so I didn't really get any inside info," admits Windass.

"I did google and stuff like that as I'm sure all football fans did.

"It's been a pleasure to work with him the last few days and his CV speaks for itself.

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"The level of players he has been coaching these last four or five years, if he's teaching them things, all he can do is make us even better because we're not at the level them players are at.

NATIONAL SERVICE: Danny Rohl, makes a point during a Germany training session in FrankfurtNATIONAL SERVICE: Danny Rohl, makes a point during a Germany training session in Frankfurt
NATIONAL SERVICE: Danny Rohl, makes a point during a Germany training session in Frankfurt

"He's worked with the elite of the elite and Hansi Flick, who he worked under (at Bayern and with Germany) is one of the best coaches in the world.

"I listen to every coach I've ever had but if you're not going to listen to this guy who's worked with the elite of the elite, who are you going to listen to? I was saying to my parents the other day, if it's good enough for Thomas Muller and people like that to listen to, I'm sure us at the bottom of the league at the minute are going to have to listen to him."

Appropriately enough, the Red Bull way revolves around pressing football often played as if by people who have overdosed on energy drinks and Windass has felt the intensity in Rohl's first week at the club since succeeding Xisco Munoz.

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"I was saying to Baz (Bannan) on Wednesday the level of training for the last three days was incredible, to be honest," says Windass. "Not that it wasn't before but you can see guys just wanting to impress the new guy so much. It's been intense, there's been tackles, there's been fouls.

GREATS: Danny Rohl coached Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski at Bayern MunichGREATS: Danny Rohl coached Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich
GREATS: Danny Rohl coached Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich

"When people haven't been doing it he's been stopping the training session and questioning why you're not doing it."

A new manager can have an energising effect on players bottom of the Championship table yet to win a match all season.

"You've got 11 players who are playing and probably another 11 who aren't so naturally them 11 players are not always going to be happy under a certain manager," argues Windass. "When a new manager comes in, those boys get a fresh chance.

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"Football's a very personal game, you want to focus on your own career so when a new manager comes in if you've not been having success with a certain manager the group as a whole lifts because the levels of training lift. Everybody wants to then get in this manager's team. That's what's happened this week."

It all sounds very exciting on paper. Hopefully it is on grass too.