Sheffield Wednesday: The only way is up under Mandaric - Morrison

The first meeting between Sheffield Wednesday's squad and the club's owner, Milan Mandaric, made it clear that his public statements about an ambitious future were a fair reflection of his attitude behind closed doors.

Mandaric held court with Wednesday's players on Tuesday, introducing himself as their new chairman and the force behind a takeover which the 72-year-old believes will restore the club to the "top table of English football". Clinton Morrison took his comments to mean that promotion from League One this season was more essential than ever.

The striker knew as much about Mandaric's background as most of the players in Wednesday's squad and he expected nothing less than forthright plans from a man who took Portsmouth into the Premier League and Leicester City out of League One.

Mandaric's purchase of Wednesday for the nominal sum of 1 was officially completed on Tuesday morning following an extraordinary general meeting of the club's shareholders. As ever, the playing staff at Hillsborough were divorced from those proceedings but Morrison does not doubt that clarity over the club's immediate health will help a team who held an automatic promotion position in League One on the day of Mandaric's takeover.

Regaining Championship status was Wednesday's footballing priority this season, and assurances over their financial status will scarcely hinder that aim. Morrison admitted that the completion of the takeover left no obstacles between the club and promotion, other than the team's

performances and results.

"There's a good feeling around the place," he said. "We met the new

chairman on Tuesday and he was very positive, just as positive as he's sounded whenever I've heard him talking in the past.

"You know that someone with Milan Mandaric's reputation is going to demand big things of you and it's more important than ever for us to get out of League One. We're a massive club in this division and that was true before the takeover. But he wants us to start moving forward straight away. We all want that.

"Players never really know what's going on with takeovers and they're nothing to do with you but it's definitely a good thing to know that the club are in safe hands. This is probably his (Mandaric's) last job in football and he'll only be here for one reason – to bring the good times back to Hillsborough. He wants Wednesday to be a Premier League club again and with him in charge we've got a great chance."

Mandaric's takeover followed Wednesday's biggest victory of the season, a 6-2 defeat of Bristol Rovers which took advantage of Brighton's loss at Huddersfield Town and edged the Owls to within three points of League One's leading club.

Manager Alan Irvine has sustained a high league position despite the

constant threat of administration and repeated attempts to wind Wednesday up. As part of his takeover, Mandaric negotiated a deal to clear debts of around 30m and Irvine will be given the opportunity to improve his squad when the January transfer window opens.

Mandaric said: "Our manager will get proper support. There will be money for him to spend."

Morrison welcomed that comment and said he expected Irvine to bring a new striker to the club next month, potentially threatening his place in the team. Wednesday's attacking ranks were trimmed in November when Marcus Tudgay joined Nottingham Forest on loan with a view to a permanent transfer.

"I've got no problem with players coming in," Morrison said. "Competition doesn't bother me at all.

"I think the gaffer's probably short of strikers anyway because Marcus Tudgay went to Forest and wasn't really replaced. Whoever comes in, I'm more than ready to fight for my place and stay in the team.

"The stronger the squad is, the more chance we've got of getting out of this league. When the chairman spoke to us, he said that he wants to be back in the Championship as soon as possible. I don't think there's any doubt that he'll back the manager and help to make it happen."

If an influx of players materialises next month, Morrison has come into goalscoring form at a convenient time.

The former Crystal Palace and Birmingham City forward claimed only two goals before the start of November but found his touch last month, scoring twice in an FA Cup win at Southport and helping to complete league victories over Rochdale and Walsall.

His finish in a 2-1 defeat to Swindon Town on December 4 left him three short of 10 goals for the season, a mark he feels he should already have passed.

"I've been saying to other people that I should be up to 10 goals by

now," Morrison said. "But I feel in good shape and I'm buzzing. I'd like to get to 20 goals this season."

Chris Wood celebrates his opening goal.
 Picture: Bruce Rollinson

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