Sheffield Wednesday: Ambitious Gray outlines way forward for Owls

Owls boss Stuart Gray
Owls boss Stuart Gray

Head coach Stuart Gray has outlined his blueprint for success at Hillsborough following Sheffield Wednesday’s takeover by Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri.

Speaking ahead of today’s trip to 18th-placed Reading, Gray said he is “very excited” by the buyout, conceding he has held a “brief meeting” with the Owls’ prospective new owner. With Chansiri’s assistance, Gray is hoping to seriously strengthen his squad over the coming weeks.

But the former Northampton Town boss is determined to make things better on and off the field, setting a three-point plan to help bring the good times back to the South Yorkshire outfit:

n Improving the facilities at their Middlewood Road training ground complex.

n Rectifying the much-maligned Hillsborough pitch.

n Tying down the out-of-contract stars the coaching staff want to retain.

Due to the snow, Wednesday have had to train at Hillsborough, where there is undersoil heating, a couple of times this week. Gray reckons the training ground is looking a “little bit tired” and could do with a makeover.

“Everything just needs upgrading a little bit,” he told The Star. “I’m a great believer if you get the working environment right it can pay dividends.

“More often than not, players speak to each other and ask about the training facilities at a club. That’s where your work is done Monday to Friday. You’ve got to have a good working environment and want players to come here. We are making the best use of what we have got but you can’t stand still. You’ve got to look to improve.”

Wednesday’s home form has been a major concern for Gray. They have won just three times in their own backyard this season and Birmingham manager Gary Rowett criticised the state of the Hillsborough pitch following their goalless draw on Tuesday, saying his players might have been better off wearing flip-flops.

“That (the pitch) is going to be a priority, particularly the way I want to play and get the ball down but nothing can probably be done until the close season now,” said Gray. “The new owners have seen that. They have come to the last few home games.

“We need a better quality surface at Hillsborough.”

Fourteen Owls players are poised to become free agents in the summer, including skipper Glenn Loovens, Jose Semedo and Chris Maguire. Gray said he is “almost there” on which members of his squad he wants to hang on to.

He said: “I have to sit down with the new owners and let them know what players I want to keep. You don’t want to lose your best players. We worked very hard to get players re-signed last season and that’s key. We have got one eye on Reading and one eye on the future as well.”