Sheffield Wednesday have announced that they have sacked Garry Monk after just over a year in charge of the Owls.
Appointed last September, Monk has had a poor spell in charge of the South Yorkshire side, placing 16th in his first season before supporters began to lose their patience with the 41-year-old after a poor start to a season where Wednesday were handed a 12-point deduction.
As the Owls headed into the current international break, the club had their deduction halved after an appeal, as well as collecting four points from two games, beating Bournemouth before a goalless draw against Millwall saw them lift off the bottom of the table.
Wednesday currently sit 23rd in the EFL Championship table upon the dismissal.
Chairman Dejphon Chansiri gave a very brief statement about the sacking of Monk.
Chansiri told the club website: “I feel the time is right to make a change and I wish Garry and his team all the best for the future.
“I would like to say thank you for the time and effort Garry and his staff have committed to Sheffield Wednesday.”
The Sheffield Star reported that the players were "taken by surprise" at Monk’s parting.
Monk’s time with the Owls
Monk, who had a loan spell with the Owls in the 2002/03 season as a player, oversaw 58 games in his time as manager, with his points-per-game ratio being the worst of the five clubs that he has managed with an average of 1.22.
Monk was appointed as Sheffield Wednesday boss in September 2019. He won his first game in charge with a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town, who were managed by Danny Cowley – also linked with the Owls job at the time.
By Christmas, Wednesday were placed third in the Championship after winning eight and drawing six from Monk’s first 17 fixtures in charge.
However, Wednesday’s season capitulated from that point, picking up just four wins and five draws from their final 23 games of the season – a dismal 17 points from a possible 69.
This diabolical form saw many fans call for the head of Monk, however, Chansiri continued with his man going into a difficult season.
The summer saw eight first-team players leave the club on free transfers, including the previous campaign’s top scorer Steven Fletcher and the highly-talented Fernando Forestieri.
Wednesday signed six permanent players, loaning in three, in a quick turnaround due to a delayed end to the campaign following the global pandemic.
Monk’s side started brightly, picking up four points from their first two games with an away win at Cardiff City and a goalless draw with Watford at Hillsborough. Their first loss of the campaign followed with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Bristol City.
However, Wednesday’s form took a nosedive, losing four straight fixtures, including an embarrassing 3-0 defeat against South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham United and handing Wycombe Wanderers a first Championship win.
Monk’s final two fixtures ended positively, with a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth and a goalless draw with Millwall, which were coupled with the news that Wednesday had their initial deduction halved.
Who could replace Monk?
Monk’s sacking comes at a strange time after it seemed that the chairman, Chansiri, had given him his full backing in a recent press conference with the media. Although, Monk’s departure could have been foreseen, with him saying: “At the moment, he is still here. I always back my coach 100 per cent all the time.”
That statement was ambiguous and was overlooked at the time, however, five days later, you realise its portrayal.
The search is now on for the man who will replace Monk at the helm, with a huge task of steering the Owls away from the bottom three.
Paul Cook is the early front-runner for the vacant position, according to the bookies. Cook is without a club after resigning from Wigan Athletic - for whom he almost overcame a 12-point deduction after the club went into administration - in the summer.
Nigel Pearson is another name being spoken about. Pearson is a respectable manager, having successful stints at Leicester City and Hull City. The former Sheffield Wednesday captain, leading them to League Cup glory in 1991, was most recently the manager of Watford, almost keeping them in the Premier League before the Hornets oddly sacked him with just a handful of games remaining.
Names such as Ryan Lowe and the aforementioned Cowley have also cropped up in circulation.
Plymouth Argyle manager Lowe would be a risky appointment, being relatively inexperienced in his short, yet successful, time in management, gaining promotions with Bury and the Pilgrims. The former Owls forward would form a great bond with supporters with his passionate character, and his attack-minded style could just be the answer to what Wednesday fans have been crying out for.
Cowley’s most recent position was with Huddersfield last campaign, being appointed at a similar time to Monk, which ended in a sacking at the end of the 2019/20 season after guiding the Terriers to safety after a poor beginning to the campaign. Cowley’s name rose to prominence after his success-filled spell with Lincoln City, which saw him guide the Imps from the National League to League Two, as well as making Lincoln the first non-league club to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in over a century.
Whoever fills the void in the Owls dugout will have the task of directing Wednesday away from the bottom three to avoid the South Yorkshire side’s first relegation in ten years.