Sheffield Wednesday: Luhukay shows understanding of derby demands
'Sorry when I'm not 100 per cent understand.'
Jos Luhukay kicked off his first pre-match press conference as Sheffield Wednesday boss with a preemptive apology, guessing he would struggle with the wording of some questions in a language not his own.
But over the best part of half an hour he demonstrated that his English is pretty good indeed.
And his understanding is not lacking either.
It was a press conference that would have attracted attention anyway, given it was Luhukay’s first.
The fact it was for a Steel City derby ramped up the interest.
And the fact Wednesday failed so woefully in the season’s first derby ensured the pressure was on Luhukay to get it right.
He needed to understand. And he did.
After the Owls’ 4-2 defeat to Sheffield United in September, there were accusations the Wednesday camp had not taken it as seriously as they should, that they were not motivated or driven enough. The opposite of everything United seemed to be.
Luhukay had an opportunity to show he ‘got it.’ And, whether intentionally or not, he showed just that.
On his unveiling to the press on Monday, the Dutchman seemed somewhat bemused by repeated questioning about the significance of the derby.
He pointed to the fact he has previously managed in a Rhineland Derby between Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Köln. He spoke of attendances of 75,000 in such games.
Of course, just speaking of experience is not enough.
Luhukay’s predecessor had experience of the fiercest of derbies but failed to give the impression he knew what they truly meant to supporters – certainly so after the fact.
Without bold statements, without theatrics, Luhukay’s demeanour yesterday gave the opposite impression.
It would have been ridiculous for Luhukay, four days into his tenure, to speak as though he knew what Wednesdayite thought about the Blades, as though he knew how much workers wanted to walk into the likes Forgemasters on Monday and laud it over Unitedites.
He may not yet have met nearly enough supporters to know exactly what THIS derby means to THIS city.
But he knows what A derby means to A city.
Luhukay’s pre-game talk was more about the need to get his team up to scratch quickly, about how hard he’d worked them, about the information he has passed on.
Wednesday’s situation means he has little time to lose. The fact he opens his tenure with a trip to Bramall Lane means he has even less.
But his demeanor helped assure that he has everything in hand. And it suggested his patched-up squad will be ready for whatever is thrown at them on Friday night. They have been drilled over the last four days.
There may not have been any tub thumping, badge slapping or chest beating but it was not needed.
Luhukay was assured, confident and composed.
And he understood.
On tonight’s match? “It is not a normal game.”