Jones must improve to keep job

Monday 29th July 2013 14:54

Dave Jones: Big season ahead for Sheffield Wednesday boss

Dave Jones: Big season ahead for Sheffield Wednesday boss

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Sheffield Wednesday FanZoner Carl Mullooly believes Dave Jones will have to oversee some improvement in the team to keep his job this season.

How has your pre-season gone?

Pre-season has gone as well as could be expected. The only defeat we have suffered was at the hands of Braga, who took a two-goal lead at Old Trafford in last season's Champions League.

We held our own against Premier League new boys Hull, whilst a victory against a well-supported Glasgow Rangers team saw a big crowd for a pre-season friendly.

It would have been nice to have had more new faces to bed in as we geared up for the coming year, but that's just not the way it happens in the modern game. Some Premier League players might be made available for loan as the season gets underway.

Are you happy with how things have shaped up in terms of transfers - both in and out?

I hope we will see a few more players coming in to boost the quality of the squad. I'm pleased with the addition of Jeremy Helan from Manchester City, who was a success on loan last season, and Jacques Maghoma looks an exciting prospect following his arrival from Burton Albion.

Add in Jermaine Johnson and Michail Antonio and we have real pace in our attacking options. I still think we need a quality central midfielder and one or two strikers, though.

I'd also be pleased if we could complete the addition of Kamil Zayatte to bolster the defence as he has looked good on trial.

New Austrian striker Atdhe Nuhiu is an unknown quantity, so I'll reserve judgement for now.

I'm surprised new deals were offered to Giles Coke, David Prutton and Miguel Llera, however all played a key part in survival last season, and they are good options to have in the squad.

If we want to progress, we do need to add players that will improve the team. Personally, I am disappointed that Chris Lines has left and never really had a chance to show if he could make the grade at this level. I wish him luck with his new challenge at Port Vale.

Is your current manager the right man for the job?

Yes. I'd say that opinion about Dave Jones is still divided amongst Owls fans, however I am a firm believer that he is the man to take the club forward.

I think expectations were understandably high last season after promotion, but realistically we finished where we should have expected. Survival and consolidation was the main aim, with anything better than that a bonus.

It wouldn't have surprised me if Jones had got the boot before Christmas, with some poor performances and the reputation of our chairman Milan Mandaric of being trigger happy. Credit to Mandaric for sticking with his man when it would have been easier to sack him. It proved to be the right decision in the end.

Having said all that, it's an important year for the boss. He has to show we are progressing and we really need to be further away from the bottom three. I don't think he will keep his job if there is a repeat of last season's form from September to December.

Judging by how the team has played in pre-season, I think he wants to adopt his own style of play this year. The passing game didn't work for the first half of last season and we reverted to a more direct football to ensure survival, which better suited the squad we had.

If the players can adapt, or more suited players are brought in, we may try again with a more attractive brand of football.

Dare to dream - if everything clicked into place what's the best you could hope for?

With the Championship being how it is, I'd say automatic promotion; anything can happen in this league!

Back to reality - what are your realistic expectations for the new campaign?

Realistically, we need to be looking at a top-half finish with an outside chance of the play-offs.

There are some seriously strong teams in the league yet in the second half of last season we proved we could compete at this level, showing play-off form.

QPR have some real quality in their squad, as do Wigan. Reading should be up there with the main stay of a team that won promotion in 2012 and a good manager in Nigel Adkins. You would also expect the likes of Leicester, Brighton, Nottingham Forest, Bolton and Watford to be in the promotion mix again.

Other than that, it's anyone's guess. There is always one surprise team. The bookies don't fancy us, and I'm happy for us to slip under the radar.

Who will visiting scouts be keeping an eye on this season?

Our key player is Michail Antonio. Last season he scored and assisted plenty in an often struggling team. Whilst Antonio didn't always perform like we had seen in League One, the potential was there.

Having experienced a season at this level, I'm confident he can have an even bigger impact this term.

Anthony Gardner, Lewis Buxton and Chris Kirkland are experienced players who give solid and consistent performances. If they can avoid injury, we should be solid at the back and be difficult to score against.

If you had to pick one player who'd be fit for every minute of every game who would it be?

Due to the injury problems that have plagued him, I would say defender Reda Johnson. He chips in with more than his fair share of goals and it gives fans a boost when he is named on the team sheet.

He is still struggling with injury and Joe Mattock has done well in pre-season at left back, but the sight of Reda going up for corners always gives you the optimism that a goal is likely, even if there is always the worry he might gift the opposition a goal.

On the flip side (without being cruel!), who is the player with most to prove?

Gary Madine. He struggled last season, was in and out of the team and didn't reproduce the scoring form that made him a key player in our promotion campaign.

Like Dave Jones, Madine divides opinion but I can see a player in there. If he can stay focused and take his chance when it comes, then he could score goals at this level.

To be honest, though, I'm expecting him to go on loan, especially if another striker or two come in.

If you could sign any one player from any other side in the same division who would you plump for?

At the moment, we most need a striker. So I'd go for Jordan Rhodes. He has proven to be prolific for the last two seasons and the one thing we really need is someone who can score 20+ goals a season.

As that is not going to happen, I'd be happy to see Leroy Lita return from Swansea.

If you only win one game all season who would you take three points from?

I'd have to say QPR away. It's our first game of the season, and arguably our biggest test. There will be a good following in the capital, and with all that early season optimism, it would be fantastic to leave Loftus Road with the spoils.

If you asked me now, with six days before the game, I'd snatch your hand off for a draw!

You can follow Carl on Twitter at @MulOwl - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too for links to all the latest blogs.

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