GRAY FACTFILE

The Football League Paper - - STUART GRAY -

Born: With­ernsea, 1960 (Age 54) Play­ing Ca­reer: A left-footer who could play in a va­ri­ety of po­si­tions, Gray be­gan his ca­reer as a trainee at Not­ting­ham For est, com­ing through the ranks along­side Steve Hodge and Colin Walsh. He made 49 ap­pear­ances for the Reds, scor­ing thr ee goals be­fore leav­ing

to join Di­vi­sion Two Barns­ley in 1984. Gray spent four years at Oak­well, scor­ing 23 goals and be­com­ing cap­tain be­fore be­ing signed by As­ton Villa for £40,000. There, he

won pro­mo­tion from the Sec­ond Di­vi­sion in 1989 and fin­ished sec­ond

in the First Di­vi­sion in 1990. He was also part of the side that beat In­ter Mi­lan at Villa Park in the UEFA Cup. Af­ter 106 games for the Villa, he joined Southamp­ton for £200,000

in 1991. But Gray would play just 12 times for the Saints, rup­tur­ing his Achilles ten­don in an FA Cup vic­tory over Bolton and r etir­ing aged

31. Man­age­rial Ca­reer: Gray worked his way through the back­room po­si­tions at Southamp­ton, even­tu­ally . be­com­ing first-team coach

to Dave Jones in 1998. He r etained his post when Glenn Hod­dle ar­rived in 2000 and a year later be­came car etaker man­ager, fail­ing to win

any of his first seven games but seal­ing a full-time con­tract with vic­to­ries against Ar­se­nal and Manch­ester United in the fi­nal two games of

the 2000-01 sea­son. Sacked af­ter eight games of the fol­low­ing cam­paign, Gray worked as a coach at Wolves, Crys­tal Palace and As­ton Villa (Tak­ing a spell as care­taker at Wolves and Villa) be­fore be­com­ing man­ager of Northamp­ton in 2007. Re­plac­ing John Gor­man, he over­saw r el­e­ga­tion from League One

in 2008 and was sacked six months later with the Cob­blers ly­ing 16th

in League Two. Af­ter fur­ther coach­ing stints at Bur nley and Portsmouth, he joined Sh­effield Wed­nes­day in 2013, be­com­ing man­ager later that year.

Ba dispir­it­ing spell as care­taker man­ager of Wolves and 18 months at Northamp­ton that brought only rel­e­ga­tion, the per­cep­tion hard­ened.

Yet 13 years on from that chas­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, Gray isn’t just back – he is the toast of Hills­bor­ough.

When the 54-year-old took over from Dave Jones in De­cem­ber, the Owls had won just one of their first 17 games and sat sec­ond bot­tom of the Cham­pi­onship, six points shy of safety. To­day, they sit in bliss­ful mid-ta­ble medi­ocrity, the man­age­ment skills that Gray sup­pos­edly lacked now very much in ev­i­dence.

“As a player, hav­ing a man­ager like Stu­art is un­be­liev­able,” said Leon Best, the striker on loan from Black­burn. “He knows what he wants and we know if we do it we’ll win games. He has you go­ing out there with con­fi­dence and you know no mat­ter what you do he has your back.”

Re­silience

Best’s thoughts were echoed by Chris Maguire. “I don’t mind where I play be­cause at the mo­ment I’m en­joy­ing my foot­ball,” he said last month. “And a lot of that is down to Stu­art. He’s given me so much be­lief and con­fi­dence.”

Gray’s re­silience should per­haps come as no sur­prise. As a player, he was re­leased by Not­ting­ham For­est at the age of 23, un­able to ce­ment a

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