How ‘dead and buried’ Sheffield Wednesday fought back under Danny Rohl

Danny Rohl faced a baptism of fire when he took his first managerial role with beleaguered Sheffield Wednesday last October.

Embattled owner Dejphon Chansiri turned to the rookie German after sacking Xisco Munoz just three months after appointing him.

Rohl arrived in South Yorkshire to take charge of a sorry side that looked out of their depth – marooned at the bottom of the table with only three points from 11 games. Munoz had been unable to build on the euphoria of promotion to the Championship via the play-offs and the club suffered its worst start to a season in their 157-year history.

By the time Rohl, 34, became the youngest manager in the EFL, he had earned a great reputation as part of the coaching staff at RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich, Southampton and the Germany national team.

Yet he did not just have on-field issues to contend with when he set about trying to mastermind a great escape.

The highly-regarded Zwickau-born boss took the hotseat soon after Chansiri declared that he would no longer put any money into the club – stating that criticism from fans aimed at the Thai businessman and his family had “crossed the line.”

Five months on, protests against Chansiri continue but Rohl has given the Owls a fighting chance of avoiding an immediate return to League One.

Just five points (and significant goal difference) separate Wednesday, who are 23rd in the table, and Millwall in 16th with eight games to play.

They looked doomed following their nightmare start, but a win over Swansea at Hillsborough on Good Friday could lift them out of the relegation zone for the first time this season.

Owls legend Carlton Palmer has been hugely impressed by the manner in which the meticulous Rohl has given Wednesday hope of avoiding the drop.

“I think everyone thought they were dead and buried, but Danny Rohl and his coaching staff have given them a hell of a chance,” the former England international told i.

“I expect it to go right down to the wire and the Swansea game is massive. They’ve also got Stoke, QPR and Blackburn – all of whom are down there.

“I think 49 or 50 points will be needed. Losing to Leeds after a great run of four wins in a row was no surprise really, but then getting hammered 6-0 at Ipswich, I didn’t see that coming and that’s big blow for their goal difference.

“They have got to put that behind them. It’s going to be touch and go but I think it’s vital they beat Swansea.”

Rohl recently revealed in an interview with German magazine Kicker that he and Chansiri make “all of the decisions” at the club – to the extent that the young manager is involved with hotel bookings.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: Will Vaulks of Sheffield Wednesday celebrates after their victory during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Plymouth Argyle at Hillsborough on March 05, 2024 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Wednesday face a must-win encounter with Swansea on Good Friday (Photo: Getty)

Having worked under the likes of Hansi Flick, Ralf Rangnick and Ralph Hasenhuttl, Rohl is thriving under the pressure of being the main man in the heat of a relegation battle.

i reported last week that Sunderland are interested in making Rohl their next boss and Palmer fears he could leave regardless of whether the Owls retain their Championship status.

“He’s done fantastically well,” Palmer added. “Ike Ugbo and Ian Poveda have made a big impact after joining in January, they needed that.

“Chris Powell’s knowledge and experience on the coaching staff is important, along with the German guys Danny has brought with him. He’s really got a tune out of the players.

“They are well in the mix to stay up and if he gets them out of it, the chairman is going to have to back this young man.

“He’s not hanging about, he wants to be successful. There have already been murmurings that he might walk. He wants improvements with the training ground and the facilities and if he does keep them up, he’ll want to be going for the play-offs next season.

“It’ll be interesting to see if the chairman will back him. Danny is an ambitious manager and he will be aiming high.”

Rohl became Wednesday’s 11th manager in 12 years after the unpopular Chansiri wielded the axe yet again to get rid of Munoz.

“The fans are restless with Mr Chansiri,” Palmer explains. “He thinks I have a problem with him, I don’t because anyone who puts money into a club over a period of time deserves credit.

“He likes to micromanage in his own way. I just think with the ticket prices he’s set, it’s a big ask for fans in the current climate.

“He can redeem himself by backing the manager and I wouldn’t like to see what the backlash would be if he doesn’t.”

Wednesday have been in desperate need of stability ever since Darren Moore left by mutual consent less than a month after celebrating the play-off triumph over Barnsley at Wembley.

It was not long before the Owls were back in the mire under Munoz, but Rohl has been a breath of fresh air, grabbing his first managerial opportunity with both hands and becoming a fan favourite.

In his first press conference that he wanted to “start a new journey with this club”. That journey was never likely to be plain sailing, but he has given the Owls supporters optimism they can escape from troubled waters after swimming against the tide for so long.

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