FOUR areas Sheffield Wednesday boss Jos Luhukay must strengthen this summer
It is hard to deny Wednesday underachieved in the most recent campaign.
A 15th-placed finish was not what anyone connected with the Championship club wanted or expected.
And manager Jos Luhukay is acutely aware work needs to be done to the Owls’ squad.
Wholesale changes aren’t necessarily required but how does Luhukay transform Wednesday into a team capable of challenging for promotion? What areas of the squad have to be addressed?
The Star’s Owls writer Dom Howson identifies the four positions which they should strengthen in the summer transfer window.
Wednesday are down on numbers in this department following Glenn Loovens’ departure and Frederico Venancio heading back to Vitoria de Setubal.
Re-signing Venancio on a permanent basis is at the top of Luhukay’s priority list but the Owls are also keeping close tabs on West Ham United youngster Reece Burke.
Wednesday have plenty of young, unproven defenders on their books so it is vital they add someone to their squad who brings experience, pace and is capable of playing on the right side or in the middle of Luhukay’s three-man backline.
Left wing back
This was a problem position in the second half of the 2017/18 season. Neither Morgan Fox nor George Boyd looked particularly comfortable in the role. Both struggled for consistency.
One possible solution is to field Adam Reach on the left flank. He frequently played as a wing back when he was on loan at Preston North End a few years ago.
But given Reach has hugely impressed in the centre with his energetic and dynamic displays this calendar year, Luhukay may resist the temptation to take the former Middlesbrough man out of midfield.
Regardless of where Luhukay decides to play Reach, it is important the Owls inject more pace into the side in the wide positions. Signing a player who would fit Luhukay’s system and suit his style of play would only aid their attempts to push on to the next level.
After Wednesday were outplayed in the 2016 Championship Play-Off Final by Hull City, it was clear they needed to bring in a commanding, physical central midfielder. Twenty four months on and a big, strong, powerful midfielder remains a requirement.
It is a department of the team where they are well-stocked, but Almen Abdi and David Jones have failed to impress while injuries have dogged Kieran Lee over the last 18 months.
When he is fit and at the top of his game, Sam Hutchinson provides the team with that extra steel and a physical presence. He can shield the back three, giving creative players such as Barry Bannan and Lee the space to express themselves.
The issue is Hutchinson only featured nine times in the 2017/18 season. Given his injury track record, is it possible to build a team around Hutchinson? The jury remains out.
If there is one thing we have learned about Luhukay, it is he likes to keep the opposition guessing. The Dutchman has used an array of formations since taking over the reins at Hillsborough, including 3-5-2, 3-4-3 and 4-3-3.
Luhukay has largely utilised a back three in his 25 matches in charge. However, Wednesday could do with bringing in another wide player to give them additional pace and flexibility when they do change systems.
Recruiting young, hungry players who are keen to develop is Luhukay’s aim so perhaps a Premier League loan would fit the criteria and help keep costs down in a summer where Luhukay is unlikely to have a big transfer kitty at his disposal.