Alan Biggs: What I believe will decide Jos Luhukay's - and Sheffield Wednesday's - fate in the Championship this coming season
Jos Luhukay came to Sheffield Wednesday with a reputation as something of a defensive coach.
Indeed, that was part of the attraction for a ship in danger of running aground. He steadied it.
But I think it will be just as much, if not more, the expressive side of Luhukay’s nature that will decide his fate this season - and the club’s.
Make no mistake, there is no likely permanence in the position without a good showing. Some managers, even today, can count on one full season as a minimum; it’s the way it should be in the ideal world that doesn’t exist in football.
This manager came in at an awkward, pivotal time for the club, as a bridge between an established side and one being scaled down or reassembled.
It’s precisely the sort of situation where football sages look knowingly at each other and conclude that “it’s a good job for the next manager.” This one, for instance, has taken some hits.
Joey Pelupessy remains his one significant foray into the market while several senior players have left, albeit with his blessing. Unlike some new bosses, he was not lured on the promise of big money to spend and understands the financial fair play issues.
Added to which, I think the Dutchman’s appointment was as big a surprise to him as the rest of us. With no disrespect to his record of promotions in Germany, it’s fair to assume Luhukay’s eyes popped out at an opportunity too good to resist.
Jobs at clubs of Wednesday’s stature tend not to come in fully favourable conditions, even if Dave Jones and Carlos Carvalhal were notable exceptions for contrasting reasons. Luhukay was on a rescue mission initially despite a hope to regain ground on the play-offs.
His brief for this season will be very different after the recovery to full fitness of most, if not all, the club’s key players.
That’s why I feel that, in much the same way as he took a shot at the job, Luhukay should feel he has nothing to lose with a bold approach. It was certainly the way he and the team ended last season, blazing to six wins in the last nine games with 20 goals scored.
At a time when many behind the scenes were uncertain of whether Luhukay would survive in the job, attack was the best form of his defence.
Maybe that proved something to both coach and players in terms of the way to approach a league that is essentially attacking in nature. A negative-looking mindset had blighted much of the campaign and even parts of the previous season.
Another thing. Luhukay’s preferred method at the outset was interpreted as a back five rather than 3-5-2, to which it became much more clearly defined. And isn’t that what many people, including this column, had been urging of the previous manager?
England playing that way in an unexpectedly successful World Cup will underpin it as a popular tactic. It’s flexible to both attack and defence. Wednesday’s more influential players are upfield.
Getting the balance right will be vital but I’d expect Luhukay to be more on the front foot than his reputation might suggest. And I believe that keeping Fernando Forestieri, linked with Swansea, is vital to that.
Luhukay is also rightly big on fitness and organisation. He deserves his crack at a promotion attempt.