3rd November – Stevie May

Sheffield Wednesday have made a good start to the season but they have struggled to put the ball in net and they will be hoping that Stevie May can find his feet in the Championship soon.

They have the joint best defensive record in the division and if only they could have scored more goals then they would have been closer to the top of the league than they currently are. May will need time to adapt to the English game but if the chances fall his way then he will surely hit the back of the net on a regular basis.

The 22 year old started his career at St Johnstone and made his debut as a 16 year old on the 11th May 2009 against Airdrie United and even managed to score. This convinced the club to give him a new contract but did not make an appearance in the following season as he needed extra time to develop. He had to wait until a game against Hearts on the 13th November 2010 to make his next appearance and would then start his first game against Motherwell on the 26th January 2011. In total he played 22 games over the course of the season and scored twice in a 2-0 win over Hamilton.
May SJ
At the start of the 2011-12 season he could not break into the first team and joined Alloa Athletic on loan and was instrumental in the club winning the Scottish Third Division. He scored a hatrick against East Stirlingshire in January 2012 and was in fantastic form for the rest of the season. Later in the season he would score four times against Elgin City to secure the title for Alloa and was then named the SFL Third Division Player of the Season after 19 goals in 22 games. This also led to him being given an extended contract at his parent club.

But it did not secure him a first team place at St Johnstone and he once again went out on loan. This time to First Division side Hamilton. After a slightly slow start he found his feet in the higher division and began to score goals for fun, including hatricks in consecutive games in April 2013 against Airdrieonians and Livingston. At the end of the season he won more personal awards after scoring 26 goals in just 35 games. This form finally convinced his parent club to give him a chance in their first team.
May Hamilton
May started the season well with four goals in the first nine league games and a winner over Rosenborg in the Europa League. The following month, May won the October SPL Player of the Month after scoring five times in four games. His goalscoring did not slow as he hit two hatricks in the space of three weeks against Dundee United and then Hearts. May’s 19th and 20th goals of the season were arguably his most important as they were in the Scottish Cup final against Aberdeen which secured the club’s place in their first ever final. They would go on to lift the trophy with May providing the assist for former Sheffield Wednesday favourite Steven MacLean. May finished the season with 27 goals in all competitions and he was linked with moves away from the club all summer, however he played in the early rounds of the Europa League, scoring against Luzern and Spartak Trnava.

On the 9th August 2014, the striker signed for Sheffield Wednesday and scored his first goal for the club against Middlesbrough on the 23rd August. He would go on to also score against Birmingham City and Reading in the following weeks but now he has to push on and grab more goals for the side.
May SW
The final word can go to Sheffield Wednesday manager Stuart Gray. “We’ve got to create chances for him. He’s got a calmness in the 18 yard box where he can pick out the corners. I’ve got every confidence he will convert them. He’s very keen to get into the full Scotland squad.”

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23rd October – Keiren Westwood

Keiren Westwood has arguably been the best signing of the season in the Championship as he has performed brilliantly for Sheffield Wednesday and has won them some valuable points in an encouraging start to the season.

The signing of Westwood was an interesting one as Wednesday already had Chris Kirkland, who in his own right is one of the best keepers in the Championship but it seems that Stuart Gray made a fantastic decision signing the goalkeeper. Now that he is once again first choice player he will be hoping that his form can convince the Republic of Ireland management that he deserves to be his country’s number one.

The 30 year old started his career at Manchester City but never played a first team game as he was understudy to David James and Nicky Weaver. In his final season at City he joined Oldham Athletic on loan, however he also didn’t play a game for them as he broke his hand and at the end of the season he was released by his parent club. In 2004 he had trials at Bradford City and Accrington Stanley but after being unsuccessful he contemplated retiring from the game and becoming a police officer.

But in 2004 he was given another chance at Conference club Carlisle United and was largely an understudy to Matt Glennon, finally making his debut in March 2005 after an injury to Glennon. In total he played four games in his first season. The following campaign Glennon left and the club brought in Anthony Williams who was expected to be the first choice. However, Westwood finally got his chance to be the club’s number one and proved his ability. He played 35 League Two games, helping the club win the title and continued to be an important member of the team.
Westwood CU
Over the next two seasons he remained first choice and at the end of the 2007-08 season he was named in the League One PFA Team of the Year and also won the club’s Player of the Year, this form led to interest from other clubs. On the 18th June 2008 Westwood joined Coventry City for an undisclosed fee and proved straightway that he could make the step up to the Championship as he was named in the Championship PFA Team of the Year. In the 2009-10 season he then went on to win the club’s Player of the Year.
Westwood CC]
After 138 appearances he left the club on a free transfer and joined Sunderland on the 1st July 2011. His time at the club was less successful as he was never given a real run in the side as Simon Mignolet was usually in good form. But after the Belgian’s departure to Liverpool, it seemed as though Westwood would become first choice and at the start of the 2013-14 season he was given the opportunity to show his quality in the Premier League, however he would only play 10 Premier League games and because of the club’s poor results he was dropped for Vito Mannone.

Now at Wednesday he will be hoping that he can help the club challenge for the playoffs, although this may be out of reach this season, they have made a decent start and this has been down to some impressive performances from the goalkeeper, with the club only conceding 11 goals in the first 11 league games.
Westwood SW
The final word can go to Wednesday midfielder Chris Maguire. “He’s kept us in five or six games, making valuable saves at the right time. He’s up there with the best I’ve worked with, but Chris Kirkland is a great keeper as well, so it’s great for competition and it’s a hard one for the manager.”

3rd August – Sam Hutchinson

Sam Hutchinson is 25 today and signed for Sheffield Wednesday this summer but things could have been a lot different as he has already retired from the game once.

At the age of 21 the defender retired from professional football because of a recurring knee injury in August 2010 that had plagued him over a number of years and restricted his first team opportunities. It must have been tough for him to make that decision as he was still seen as a fantastic prospect by first club Chelsea where he had been from the age of nine.

He showed his ability early on and made his first team debut at the age of 18 in May 2007 and big things were expected of him which is why the club gave him a new four year contract in August of the same year. In total he played three Premier League games before announcing his retirement from the game but he was given the opportunity to work with Chelsea’s academy whilst also studying at university and it wasn’t long before the club wanted him to become a player for them once again.
Soccer - Carling Cup - Third Round - Chelsea v Queens Park Rangers - Stamford Bridge
In December 2011 he came out of retirement and signed a new one and a half year deal with the club after significant improvement in his knee and made his return as a substitute in a 6-1 win over QPR. To prove his fitness he signed for Nottingham Forest on a season long loan deal and made his debut in a 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town and then followed this up by scoring on his home debut in a 2-1 win over Charlton Athletic. However, injury was to strike once more soon afterwards and he returned to Chelsea for treatment and after another long break out of the game he returned to training with Forest at the beginning of March. Hutchinson ended the campaign with nine appearances and one goal for the Championship side.
Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Nottingham Forest v Charlton Athletic - City Ground
The 2013-14 season started with him going out on loan to Dutch side Vitesse however he only played one league game for the club and was recalled from his loan in January. This opened the door for Sheffield Wednesday to sign him on loan and he impressed the fans with his performances and also manager Stuart Gray who wanted to sign him permanently. “Sam is available on a free. An offer has gone in for him. I am keen to re-sign Sam. Any of the lads we have brought here, we’ve looked after them. We’ve done it right. I think they appreciate what we have done for them. Maybe the player will have some loyalty to the club.”
Hutchinson SW
Even though Hutchinson was linked with Premier League clubs, he did sign for Wednesday on a two year deal and will be hoping to remain injury free and help the club challenge for the playoffs.

The final word can go to the Nottingham Forest manager that signed him Sean O’Driscoll. “He’s a bit John Terry-esque – they see him like that. He’s been at Chelsea all his career and had an injury which forced his retirement but he seems to have got over it. I saw him last season and he was excellent.”

22nd June – Kieran Lee

Kieran Lee had a pretty slow start to his career at Sheffield Wednesday but last season proved to be one of their best players and was a very influential player on the pitch.

It is not surprising that he eventually showed his quality at Hillsborough because of how well he had already done in the past at previous clubs. It seemed like injuries were going to be a problem for him but his form improved dramatically after Dave Jones left the club and he started playing in the centre of midfield under Stuart Gray.

Lee did start his career as a central midfielder but at first club Manchester United he was used mostly as a fullback and after impressing for the under 18s and the reserves he was offered a professional contract at the club. During the 2006-07 season he was named the captain of the reserves team and also made his first team debut coming on as a substitute in a third round League Cup game against Crewe Alexandra. The scores were level at full time so the game went to extra time and Lee scored to make it 2-1 with a composed finish that seasoned pros would have been proud of.
Lee MU
He played once more in the League Cup that season and also made his Premier League debut against Chelsea on the 9th May and at the end of the season he was named the Reserve Player of the Year. Although he was named as a substitute in a Champions League game against Roma he never played for the Old Trafford club again and on the 2nd January he joined QPR on loan. He spent four months at the London club and made seven appearances before being released by his parent club.

In the summer of 2008 he joined Oldham Athletic and his career really kicked off and he became one of the most consistent players for the next few seasons. But he had to wait until the 26th December to make his debut in a 3-0 win over Crewe and to make it better he even provided the assist for the final goal. Lee had to wait until the next season to get his first goal and it was an important 95th minute equaliser against Swindon Town and he eventually became a first team regular for the first time in his career.
Soccer - npower Football League One - Oldham Athletic v Milton Keynes Dons - Boundary Park
When Paul Dickov became manager of Oldham his performances went to the next level and he was regarded as one of the best fullbacks in the Football League. At the end of the 2010-11 season he picked up four Player of the Year awards at the club, including Players’ Player of the Year and the Fans’ Player of the Year. Remarkably at the end of the following season he followed this up once more with yet another four awards.

Sheffield Wednesday then signed Lee in 2012 and the 26 year old is now one of their most important players and in the season just gone he played 26 times, scoring once and creating another four goals.
Kieran Lee of Sheffield Wednesday
The final word can go to the Oldham chairman Simon Corney. “Sometimes when players leave, you feel let down because you think they owe you something, but this is absolutely not the case with Kieran. He’s a great boy; I can’t speak highly enough of him; I wish we had 11 Kieran Lees”

19th April – Stuart Gray

Surely he has to be in contention for Championship Manager of the Season after turning round the fortunes of Sheffield Wednesday.

Stuart Gray is celebrating his 54th birthday today and he can enjoy it and not have to worry too much about his team’s position in the league table. Gray took charge when it looked like the club were in a difficult position and relegation was on the cards. They were second bottom and had only won one game all season leading to the sacking of Dave Jones. Whatever changes he made seemed to work as the club embarked on a long unbeaten run. The only surprising thing about his time at the club so far is that it took so long for chairman Milan Mandaric to hire him permanently. In his 31 matches in charge he has won 14 of those games and lost 10 which is a decent record in the Championship.

Looking back on his playing career it is not surprising that he is a solid and consistent manager as that is exactly how he played the game. He was a left back or a midfielder and performed admirably in both positions, rarely letting his team down and being effective going forward. After coming through the youth team at Nottingham Forest but after a loan spell at Bolton Wanderers he moved to Barnsley where he played the most games in his career. It was his time at Aston Villa where he had the most success though as he won promotion to the top division and then in 1990 he helped them finish second in the First Division.
Gray Barnsley
In September 1991 he moved to Southampton for £200,000 unfortunately he only played 12 league games because of an injury that ended his career. He was given the opportunity by the club to join the coaching staff and after a brief spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers he became reserve team coach at Southampton working with Dave Jones. In 2001 after the departure of then manager Glenn Hoddle he took over as manager but he was sacked after only 19 games because of a poor start to the season.

He was back in football pretty quickly and at Aston Villa he became their caretaker manager and remained unbeaten in his two games in charge. The next stage of his career must have felt like déjà vu for everyone as he was appointed assistant manager of Wolves by Dave Jones but this pairing didn’t last long as Jones was sacked and Glenn Hoddle took charge. Gray remained as Hoddle’s assistant until he was sacked and Gray took over from him. This time only on a caretaker basis though.

In 2007 he was appointed as manager of Northampton Town and their chairman David Cardoza said: “Stuart is one of the most highly respected and highly rated young managers and coaches in the game.” He was given plenty of backing by the club and was in charge for 135 games winning 44 of them but this was not good enough and he was sacked in 2009.
Gray Northampton
After spells at Burnley and Portsmouth, he joined up once more with Jones at Sheffield Wednesday who felt he could help the side improve. “I felt that getting in a bit of experience would help. It’s been a long time since I’ve been at the bottom and no disrespect but Stuart has experienced a lot of that.” Maybe his words were a bit harsh and when Jones was sacked, Gray got his chance to show everyone that he was a good manager and could be successful in the Championship.
Gray Wednesday
He had a very long trial period but he came through that very well and the final word can go to the chairman that appointed him Milan Mandaric: “The response of the players and everyone else shows that he’s the right character for the job. He’s a stable guy and that’s what the club needs.”