Match analysis: Jos Luhukay shows his angry side as Sheffield Wednesday's sorry defence crumbles at Swansea City

Festive cheer is in short supply at Sheffield Wednesday.

Sunday, 16th December 2018, 7:58 am
Updated Sunday, 16th December 2018, 8:08 am
Sheffield Wednesday defenders Tom Lees and Jordan Thorniley at the final whistle.....Pic Steve Ellis

The dark clouds are gathering after a woeful run of seven defeats from their last 10 Championship matches.

The Owls contrived to lose 2-1 in torrential rain and howling winds against mid-table Swansea City on Saturday. Two quickfire second half goals from substitute Bersant Celina and Wayne Routledge cancelled out Marco Matias's 63rd minute opener to leave Wednesday without a victory in three outings and just five points above the relegation zone.

Sheffield Wednesday defenders Tom Lees and Jordan Thorniley at the final whistle.....Pic Steve Ellis

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Disgruntled Wednesdayites have reached breaking point and demanded manager Jos Luhukay be axed for the third match running. There were chants of 'we want Jos out' from the 1,000 plus travelling fans with five minutes remaining of another damaging result.

The pressure is getting to Luhukay and he cut short a post-match interview with BBC Radio Sheffield's Sports Editor Andy Giddings after taking exception to a question about his future.

An angry and animated Luhukay said: "How many times you ask me this question? F****ing hell."

Owls striker Atdhe Nuhiu holds off Cameron Carter-Vickers......Pic Steve Ellis

As Luhukay walked out on the BBC interview, he claimed he had been asked that question "10 to 20 times" in the past fortnight. "Bye, bye" was Luhukay's parting shot as he left the room to go and conduct his other media duties.

Luhukay was prickly and rattled.

A man feeling the strain after collecting a meagre five points from the last 30 on offer. A man fighting to save his job after an alarming slump in their fortunes.

Almost 12 months ago, owner Dejphon Chansiri showed little festive spirit in dispensing with former coach Carlos Carvalhal's services on Christmas Eve. Will history repeat itself in 2018? Time will tell.

Marco Matias celebrating his opener

The match

No way should Wednesday have left the Liberty Stadium empty-handed. This was one of their better performances in recent weeks, although the bar is set pretty low.

Starting with a 5-4-1 formation, Luhukay's side competed which is all people ask for. Swansea dominated possession without hurting Wednesday for 70 minutes.

With Tom Lees a pillar of strength at the back, Adam Reach buzzing around in midfield and Lucas Joao and Atdhe Nuhiu causing problems at the business end of the pitch, the Owls made life difficult for the Swans in the driving rain and swirling wind in South Wales. 

Owls pair Adam Reach and Marco Matias at the final whistle.....Pic Steve Ellis

No one could accuse Wednesday's players of not playing for the manager or putting a proper shift in. They gave a decent account of themselves in testing conditions.

Hopes were raised of a first victory on the road in over two months when Matias robbed young Swansea defender Joe Rodon of the ball deep inside his own half before lashing home his fourth league goal of the campaign.

It was all going according to plan, but the ghosts of the past came back to haunt the Owls.

The introduction of skilful attacking midfielder Bersant Celina on 65 minutes swung the pendulum in Swansea's favour. Celina restored parity after fine approach play on the right flank involving Connor Roberts and Barrie McKay.

Wednesday went to sleep on the left hand of their defence and were duly punished. Christmas had come early for the Swans.

And the Owls gave the hosts another present a minute later when Celina turned provider, lofting an exquisite pass to Wayne Routledge, who shrugged off the attentions of Morgan Fox before drilling a low shot through Cameron Dawson's legs to complete the comeback.

Another gift from the worst defence in the division.

A seething Luhukay said: "It's very hard to take. It is totally frustrating to give away a 1-0 lead in a couple of minutes.

"Swansea had no chance to score but we didn't have any discipline or concentration to hold the lead.

"In a couple of minutes, we gave everything away. We didn't defend down our left side twice. The first goal was not acceptable, you have to run with your opponent, I have tried to coach this three or four times but it is not going in their heads.'

No case for the defence

Swansea brutally exposed and exploited the Owls' mental fragility and defensive deficiencies in 60 seconds. Where was the game management and cool heads under pressure?

"The game is 90 minutes long and you must have 100 per cent focus and concentration to pick up a good result,' said Luhukay.

Luhukay has justifiably taken plenty of criticism for not finding a formula to restore solidity. He has helped create a lack of stability by constantly changing his team and tactics. Daniel Pudil was preferred to Chelsea loanee Michael Hector while Josh Onomah replaced the suspended Barry Bannan in the middle of the park. Luhukay criticised Onomah's contribution and hauled him off at half-time as he again altered their approach.

But Wednesday's expensively-assembled squad must also take their fair share of the blame for the team's sharp decline. They have grossly under-performed.