Will Sheffield Wednesday regret not hiring Danny Cowley?
Background image: Daniel Bagshaw, CC BY 3.0
Lincoln City boss Danny Cowley performed a dramatic U-turn, agreeing to become the new manager at Championship side Huddersfield Town. Earlier in the week, he reportedly rejected the chance to manage the Terriers and was in "advanced talks" to assume the vacant seat at Sheffield Wednesday. The Owls subsequently announced Garry Monk will attempt to lead the Steel City's blue side to the promised land, aka the Premier League, for the first time since 2000.
But how much of a blow was it for Wednesday to miss out on Cowley and what can Town fans expect from the 40-year-old who again will be ably assisted by his brother Nicky?
It's fair to label the siblings' achievements in three campaigns at Lincoln City as remarkable. They quit their jobs as full-time PE teachers in Essex to take over a side languishing in the National League doldrums. The Cowleys led City to the title in their first year then enjoyed an unforgettable run to the FA Cup quarterfinals, the first non-league team to do so in 103 years. An EFL Trophy at Wembley and a further promotion followed. The pair left Lincoln sitting pretty, fifth in League One.
Danny takes the fore. It's clear the man is a serial winner. From his time in charge at non-league Concord Rangers, then Braintree Town, he and Nicky achieved unheralded success, leading the latter club to third place in the National League on a shoestring budget in 2015/16. That remains the club's highest finish. The winning continued at Sincil Bank where the duo claimed maximum points in more than 53% of their matches.
Cowley was also credited with some of England's success at the 2018 World Cup. The Three Lions found joy from set-pieces during their semifinal run in Russia due to the 'love train' formation in which four players formed a row, conga style, before splitting off in different directions. England amassed nine of their dozen goals from dead-ball situations. Commentators often pointed to the fact Lincoln used the same approach to great effect under Cowley.
Despite his innovations, Cowley attracted criticism in some quarters for an "overly direct" style. Certainly, Lincoln utilised a target man in both the National League and League Two. Matt Rhead and later John Akinde were highly effective. Cowley claimed he adopted the best system for the players available. In this season's early stages, Lincoln played a more expansive style. On a season-long loan from Nottingham Forest, Tyler Walker exploited the new tactics.
Cowley will no doubt be under far greater scrutiny in the Championship. The 40-year-old has broad shoulders, however. He freely admitted that mistakes at such a high level won't escape the media glare. Life will be less forgiving.
He also won't be afforded a summer to familiarise himself with the situation at John Smith's Stadium. The brothers must hit the ground running to boost a team low on confidence. Following Jan Siewert's chaotic tenure which produced just one win from 19 matches, Huddersfield are second-bottom in the Championship. A single point from their opening six fixtures mandated the change.
Cowley called Huddersfield the "perfect opportunity" to consider leaving Lincoln where he was held in the highest esteem. Imps fans can only mourn his departure. Terriers faithful freed from Siewert's miserable reign hope there will be an immediate bounce effect and Cowley can start off with three points on the weekend. The opposition? Sheffield Wednesday.