Championship: Sheffield Wednesday caretaker boss Stuart Gray salutes Owls
Sheffield Wednesday caretaker boss Stuart Gray feels the players have turned around the club's fortunes in recent weeks.
Last Updated: 13/01/14 4:10pm
Gray took over from the sacked Dave Jones in early December and hopes to be given the job full-time this week after steering Wednesday to four wins and two draws in his eight league games in charge - the latest success being Saturday's televised 6-0 rout of Yorkshire rivals Leeds.
Asked what he had done to help halt Wednesday's slide, Gray said: "It was quite embarrassing because I think we played 18 games and we hadn't had a clean sheet.
"So what I decided to do was become a little bit more solid. I don't like to name names, but I thought the midfield (against Leeds) was outstanding, (Chris) Maguire, (Jose) Semedo, (Kieran) Lee and (Jacques) Maghoma were just fantastic.
"So we've just become a little more solid, hard to break down and all I've done is asked them to just put a shift in, to lift the crowd, which means closing down, winning 50/50 challenges.
"If any supporter sees a player closing down and going from one man to the next man, to the next man, individually and collectively, they will get behind the team.
"So we've given the fans a lift with our energy and effort, but the pleasing thing about this performance is that (Caolan) Lavery has got a couple of goals, Atdhe (Nuhiu) got a goal, Connor (Wickham) got another goal, Maguire's got another goal and two passes from Kieran Lee were fantastic for the two goals.
"So I've got quality, there's Semedo who will break things down and put his foot in and a bit of skill and quality in Kieran Lee, who can pick out the pass."
Wednesday moved four points clear of the relegation zone at the weekend and bid to progress in the FA Cup on Tuesday night when they play Macclesfield at home in a third-round replay.
"We are looking forward to it," Gray added. "It was a difficult tie for us last time, we played well in the first half but we couldn't finish them off with a second goal.
"All credit to Macclesfield, they came back into it and it was more of a cup tie in the final 20 minutes.
"It is a case of it not being after the Lord Mayor's show, we have to be fully focused.
"We need to make this place a fortress and we can start on Tuesday."