Mandaric looking to strengthen Owls in all areas

MILAN MANDARIC yesterday outlined Sheffield Wednesday's ambitious January transfer policy and gave manager Alan Irvine his full backing.

Wednesday's new chairman is planning to bring in at least six new players, including Reda Johnson who signed at the beginning of the week and Michael Morrison, whose transfer from Leicester City will be completed today.

Johnson and Morrison are defenders and Mandaric believes the club needs one more defensive player, plus two midfielders and two strikers to strengthen a 'very thin playing staff' for the League One promotion push.

His aim is to make the majority of January signings permanent deals, and predominantly young players, as the no-nonsense chairman begins to build a club for the future.

He has also given his full backing to Irvine, in part for what the Scot has already accomplished in difficult circumstances at the club.

And the hands-on owner insists that although it is he who is discussing the club's transfer policy, it is the manager who is the one identifying the players.

"These players are all on Alan's list," Mandaric said yesterday of the club's targets. "If there was a player somewhere that I thought about and went and said to Alan 'what about this player he might be available?', Alan pulls out his list and shows me the player is also on his list.

"We are working tirelessly, all of us, to bring in additional quality players. Our objective is to bring in at least six players during January, all across the lines; defence, midfield and offence.

"I'd like to see at least four of those players to be owned by the club. Younger, good quality players so we can build the club.

"The club didn't have in the past and doesn't have today, assets in players. Bringing in loan players helps temporarily but doesn't help building the club in the long term.

"There's a lot of work to be done. Once we've finished we'll have a better balance – that's the key, we don't want to just bring in players that are available, we need to look at the puzzles, where do we need players and what kind of players.

"Alan is working tirelessly, is excited about the possibilites and is appreciating the support and I just hope our supporters recognise we are doing the right things for them.

"It's important to build up the assets of the club, and the main asset is the team. We don't have the luxury of many assets, but what I intend to do is build not only for the next game but the next season and beyond."

Mandaric was last night finalising a deal for Morrison, the 22-year-old from Leicester who can play either central defence or right-back.

Another player linked to Hillsborough is United States striker Edson Buddle, who may not be attracting as much interest in the English market as his Los Angeles Galaxy team-mate David Beckham, but is a player Mandaric has been in contact with.

"He's over and above what we're looking at now but we're not giving up definitely," said Mandaric of the 29-year-old who has scored two goals in six internationals.

"As of the 10th (Monday) we'll know more, whether or not we'll be able to bring him in on a work permit.

"We're in the negotiation stage with the other four players. I'd like to see all of them here before January 15, our next important league game (Charlton).

"Whether we will be able to we don't know, but we will definitely have more than we have today."

The only hint of privacy in a frank and transparent exchange with the Owls owner came when the topic of transfer fees came up.

Mandaric spent nearly 10m to save Wednesday from administration and wipe out all their debts but is unwilling to discuss transfer fees.

"The policy of the club will be we won't be talking about numbers," said Mandaric, who revealed the majority of the club's targets are Championship players.

"People ask me 'how much are you going to spend?' and my answer is I am going to give the club financial support that I believe the club needs at this time.

"For us to go out and spend 10m on a player doesn't make sense. I've got to also have a business hat on. There's a lot of people chasing dreams that end up in trouble.

"My duty to this football club is to stabilise this club and take it up on a solid basis rather than just throwing money artificially and then see what happens.

"We will spend the money for the right young players that will make assets for this club."

Asked whether he backed Irvine, who he has seen preside over two defeats and just one win in three games, Mandaric said: "Absolutely. We all have to be patient, we all have to be together in this.

"It is a new era for the club, this club has been down and down for a long time.

"We have to recognise that and what we have to do is look at the positives.

We're moving forward, I want all our supporters to get behind us. Alan needs it and the players need it.

"I've seen three games and Alan deserves a lot more credit than he's been getting, especially with a small staff and considering what he's accomplished to this point, so we've got to give him support.

"He's a good man, a good manager."