Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: Creativity before cash for Jos Luhukay
It was in the final throes of the 2017/18 season that Owls boss Jos Luhukay opened up on his summer recruitment plans.
The Dutchman expressed his desire to bring in young, hungry players to join his Wednesday revolution.
Luhukay also made it crystal clear the Owls must be “creative” in the transfer market. That remark suggests it is highly unlikely Wednesday will splash the cash this summer. The chances are the club will look to tap into the overseas market to unearth a hidden gem or two and perhaps make a few smart loan additions.
After three years of big spending, it is hardly a surprise Wednesday are doing things differently. The club are determined to continue complying with Profitability and Sustainability regulations so expensive purchases look like a thing of the past.
There is a big rebuilding job to be done at Hillsborough and, ideally, the Owls need to move on a few of the higher earners to slash their wage bill.
Does that mean there will be a mass exodus at S6? Contrary to reports in the national media, I don’t expect that to be the case. Are Wednesday the only club in the Championship who could do with cutting their costs? Certainly not.
There is, of course, no escaping the fact that the Owls’ bloated squad requires some surgery. But realistically they might have to wait until the summer of 2019 when there are 11 senior players out of contract, including Keiren Westwood, Barry Bannan, Kieran Lee, Gary Hooper, to make wholesale changes.
It is clear Wednesday are seeking to balance the books but that won’t overly concern Luhukay. He is a vastly-experienced manager and has proven at other clubs he is capable of being successful operating on a modest budget.
Something else Luhukay has undeniably demonstrated since taking over the reins at Hillsborough is his ability to improve players. Adam Reach, Lucas Joao and Atdhe Nuhiu immediately spring to mind. Joey Pelupessy, drafted in by Luhukay in January, also grew in stature in the final few months of last season. Luhukay has developed individuals and made them better. On top of that, he has helped instill confidence and self-belief into Wednesday’s talented group of young players.
Where Luhukay arguably looks at his happiest is on the training ground and he will no doubt enjoy putting the players through their paces when pre-season begins in earnest on Monday.
And having stabalised the club, Luhukay’s job over the coming weeks and months is to continue maximising the options at his disposal.