Youthful approach needed at Sheffield Wednesday, urges Chris Turner

Former Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper and manager Chris Turner says the club needs to rebuild on youthful lines this summer to recover from past mistakes.

The Owls have not played Premier League football since 2000 and, 15th in the table at the time football was put on hold for the coronavirus, will not be doing so next season either.

With a host of senior players out of contract in the summer, manager Garry Monk is going to have to have a clearout and judging by the comments he has made throughout the campaign about the need for a culture shift at Hillsborough, it is something he will probably be relishing.

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Monk has also spoken about how he likes a dressing room of leaders, which often points to an older group, but Turner believes remodelling along younger lines would be better.

Former Sheffield Wednesday manager Chris Turner.Former Sheffield Wednesday manager Chris Turner.
Former Sheffield Wednesday manager Chris Turner.

“To be at the top is very difficult,” he reflected. “Sheffield Wednesday flirted with it in the 1990s (winning the League Cup in Turner’s final season and reaching both major domestic cup finals in 1993) and suddenly the wheels came off and they went down to the old third division,” says Turner, who managed his boyhood club from 2002 to 2004 after two spells as a player.

“They got back up into the Championship but it’s very difficult to go up to the Premier League and as each year goes by it gets tougher and tougher because other clubs have got parachute payments you haven’t.

“Things have to bottom out.”

Website Transfermarkt calculates the Owls have the second oldest squad in the Championship, with only Cardiff City having an average age higher than their 27.5.

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Sam Hutchinson, Steven Fletcher, Morgan Fox, Fernando Forestieri, Joey Pelupessy, Kieran Lee, Atdhe Nuhiu, Sam Winnall, Jack Stobbs and Matt Penney are out of contract in the summer, while David Bates, Jacob Murphy, Josh Windass, Conor Wickham and Alessio Da Cruz are on loan.

World governing body FIFA is trying to find a solution if the season needs to be played beyond the June 30 conclusion of those deals, but forcing players to extend them without agreement could be impossible under English law.

The club opened talks with Fletcher and Fox about new deals before the outbreak, but have said little about the rest.

Hutchinson and Bates have been frozen out by Monk, along with Keiren Westwood and club record signing Jordan Rhodes, who both have another year to run on their contracts.

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“They have got players coming to the end of their contracts and the manager needs the opportunity to clear the decks and get a young team together with energy, enthusiasm, football ability and pace,” said Wakefield chairman Turner, who started his career at Hillsborough from 1976 to 1979, returning for three years in 1988.

“If he can do that, then in time, with the support they have they will get back.

“But buying players for big transfer fees and putting them on big wages is not the way forward. They’ve got to hand-pick the players in the right positions.

“I think they’ve gone the wrong way about it going for experienced players on big wages and transfer fees and some of them can’t even get a game in the team,” he said.

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“That’s created all the debt and they’ve sold the ground to the owner.

“It’s a disaster in my opinion and it’s got to be sorted out.

“They’ve got to hold their hands up and start again, build again.”

Wednesday could yet return to League One, which they have been relegated twice to this century.

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Their nine-point cushion to the relegation zone should ordinarily suffice with nine matches left, but it could be wiped out by a misconduct penalty over the sale and lease-back of Hillsborough to Dejphon Chansiri.

The Owls will contest the charge, which could be heard in July, and are taking confidence from the fact Chansiri and others have been cleared of individual charges.

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