Review: A year to remember under Dejphon Chansiri

Dejphon Chansiri
Dejphon Chansiri

From improving the quality of the team to altering the club’s crest, it has been 12 months of great change at Hillsborough.

It is hard to believe a year ago today that distinguished Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri agreed to purchase Sheffield Wednesday.

Carlos Carvalhal, left, and Dejphon Chansiri

Carlos Carvalhal, left, and Dejphon Chansiri

He has certainly put his own stamp on the club.

When he bought the Owls, Chansiri admitted his knowledge of football was limited.

But Chansiri is a quick-learner, has put his money where his mouth is and got far more decisions right than wrong during his tenure.

After officially concluding his £37.5m takeover last March, Chansiri promised to spend £1m on laying a brand new pitch at Hillsborough and install a new scoreboard. Both jobs were carried out and completed on time over the summer.

His next big call was to bring in Adam Pearson and Glenn Roeder to work alongside Stuart Gray as part of a transfer committee. Many pundits and fans questioned the wisdom of Chansiri setting up the system, fearing there would be too many cooks and it would slow down decision-making.

Pearson, Roeder, Jonathan Hill and Paul Senior were all brought in as advisers. None of them are around anymore, with Chansiri opting to streamline his committee. It was an experiment that ultimately did not work.

If that was a bold step, he controversially axed Gray, who did a good job on a shoe-string of a budget, leading Wednesday to 13th-placed finish. Wednesday’s goal shortage and inability to win in their own backyard cost Gray his job.

It is impossible to second guess Chansiri and he illustrated his unpredictable side by appointing little-known Carlos Carvalhal the night before the first-team squad were due to report back for pre-season training.

Naming Carvalhal as the club’s new head coach was an inspired move. The enigmatic Portuguese chief has won over his critics through his bubbly personality.

His remit was to play an attractive, aggressive and entertaining style of football. Given Wednesday are one of the highest-scorers in the division, Carvalhal has succeededin his mission.

Turning Hillsborough into a place opponents fear visiting has been the key to Wednesday’s success. They have only lost once at home all season, earning rave reviews for their slick, passing football.

Humbling Arsenal in the cup will live long in the memory of every Wednesdayite.

Not all of Chansiri’s decisions have been popular with Wednesday’s fan-base. He came in for stinging criticism for increasing match-day ticket prices prior to this season.

In a lengthy statement, Chansiri defended his decision, insisting it would underpin their promotion push.

He said: “Budgets must be achieved, we must work within the constraints of Financial Fair Play, and we do not have the benefit of Parachute Payments, unlike the significant number of our peers in the Championship.”

Since that controversial decision, he has introduced a revolutionary three-year season ticket.

Chansiri predicted it would be one of the “most exciting seasons” in the club’s history. As we embark on the final three months of the campaign, Wednesday are eight points and four places better off than they were at this stage last year, reached the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup and currently occupy the final play-off position. Everything looks on an upward curve on and off the pitch, surpassing all expectations.

Throughout Chansiri’s ownership, the Owls have been one of the most active clubs in the transfer market. He has invested heavily in the first-team squad, sanctioning 24 loan and permanent signings in total. Two players have, on average, joined the club per month. It has been the biggest outlay in almost a generation and you get the feeling there could still be more new arrivals before Monday’s deadline.

Big sums of money have been spent on strikers Fernando Forestieri and Gary Hooper. This level of investment is a reminder of what an ambitious person Chansiri is and that he means business.

Chansiri is a very unassuming character who wants and expects the best.

He admits dealing with agents has been a steep learning curve.

“Time by time, I have got more familiar with the transfer window,” he said. “I have learned a lot on how to deal with players and agents.”

When identifying potential transfer targets, Chansiri’s committee, consisting of him, Carvalhal and a number of global advisers, draw up a short-list of “three to five” players.

“We ask Carlos what he likes for his style of playing and then I make the final decision,” he said.

It is Chansiri that calls the shots as he demonstrated, following a consultation process with the fans, by changing their club crest this week.

After his buy-out was rubber-stamped, Chansiri set a target of taking the Owls back to the Premier League within two years. The way things are going, it could happen even sooner than he thought.