Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: Cracks show in Jos Luhukay's'‹'‹'‹'‹ relationship withÂ the Owls fans
The cracks are starting to show in Jos Luhukay's relationship with the Owls supporters.
A section of Wednesday's 2,800 travelling fans booed Luhukay's decision to take off Steven Fletcher with 12 minutes remaining in Saturday's defeat at Birmingham City. Fletcher was superb in attack but Luhukay defended his call, citing fatigue as a reason why he brought the big Scot off for Lucas Joao.
It was the first sign of unrest towards Luhukay. With each passing match, the pressure is increasing on the Dutchman. A quick glance on social media suggests Luhukay is on thin ice with a large proportion of the fan-base.
As I wrote in Monday's Star, Luhukay must take some share of the blame for the Owls' slump in fortunes. He has not managed to get the right balance in the team since the international break, constantly tinkering with the starting eleven and formation.
Luhukay has, rightly so, been praised to the hilt for giving youth a chance. He continues to put the club's long-term interests ahead of his own.
But he will be judged on results and his contentious decision to drop a number of established senior players has left the team low on leadership and experience. Their bench at St Andrew's lacked Championship pedigree.
Given Wednesday's recent troubles and another tough run of fixtures looming on the horizon, will Luhukay bring back some of the older guard against Norwich City? I wouldn't bet on it.
Part of Luhukay's remit and vision is to reduce the average age of the squad so it is highly unlikely he will change his thought process.
What Luhukay needs to focus on as a matter of urgency is shoring up Wednesday's porous defence. Their leaky backline is falling way short of the required standard and it's Luhukay's job to fix it.
Luhukay has called on his squad to toughen up, admitting they have been too mentally frail. He has a point.
The Owls have looked a soft touch in the defeats to Queens Park Rangers and Birmingham. Too many players have let Luhukay down and failed to execute the gameplan.
Can Luhukay turn things around? He has come through tricky periods before during his Owls reign. It is easy to forget Wednesday lost five on the trot between February and March and went seven matches without a victory.
Picking a settled team would help Luhukay's cause no end. As would a clean sheet.
But Luhukay faces an uphill task to win over his detractors. The natives have become restless and the sight of Sheffield United riding high at the top of the table has further increased the scrutiny on Luhukay.
Wednesdayites are divided on Luhukay. Some respect the job he has done in trying circumstances. Others are losing patience in him and believe he has not made the most of the tools at his disposal.
One thing is for certain; Luhukay needs a win to get the fans off his back.