Sheffield Wednesday: '˜Steel City derby is not about me,' insists new Owls boss Jos Luhukay
Hard work. Stability. Success.
New Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay kept on repeating those words in the multiple interviews he conducted at Hillsborough yesterday.
But actions speak louder than words and the Dutchman’s first assignment is Friday’s Steel City derby at Bramall Lane.
It promises to be a baptism of fire for Luhukay, who has spent all his playing and managerial career in his homeland Holland and Germany.
He stressed: “It is not about me. I do not want to be the hero, only someone who does a very good job. I will be very happy for the team if we win on Friday but it is not about me.
“I cannot speak for them. The players will give the performance and the fans are happy. That is what I like.
“For me, I am more happy for other people if we do well. I will not be the hero.
“A win on Friday would give us more confidence and also a trust in ourselves and our team-mates. That is what we need, a boost for the next game.”
Luhukay is undaunted at the prospect of facing Sheffield United.
The 54-year-old, who spent most of his playing career as a midfielder in the lower echelons of the Dutch and German leagues, said: “I know what to expect.
“I have been involved in a lot of derbies in the past. I have a lot of passion for Friday’s game.
“Derbies are special games. They are everywhere, in every country. I’m told of the passion that the fans have - it’s a highlight day.
“Emotion, atmosphere, passion. They are the things you feel and I hope the players have the motivation to play good football.”
Luhukay has experienced plenty of big, hostile derbies before in his career.
“Borussia Monchengladbach against FC Cologne was a big one,” he recalled. “Hertha and Union Berlin had 75,000 people at the derby. Two clubs in one city is the same as here.
“That made it a challenge to be the best team.”
It’s a fresh start for Luhukay and he is looking forward to the challenge.
“I have worked for 22 years in Germany so I wanted something new,” he said. “I am very happy that Sheffield Wednesday have given me this chance as a trainer and a coach. It is a big highlight (of my career).
“In the next weeks and months, I will learn more about the whole club. I have worked for big clubs in Germany so can see how it is here.
“The last two years, I was often in London and watched a lot of games. I liked the football. It is great and the stadiums are big.
“The fans also have a lot of emotions and passion. That is why I like it very much to be a manager here.”
Chairman Dejphon Chansiri interviewed a number of candidates, including former Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers boss Paul Lambert, but is convinced Luhukay is the right person to take the club forward.
“The conversation was good with Mr Chansiri,” admitted Luhukay, who claims he turned down job offers in Germany’s Bundesliga before accepting the challenge of reviving the Owls’ fortunes. “He likes football and has a big passion. It was a very good conversation.
“We will play good football but, first, it is important now to bring some stability. The team has not much confidence.
“In the last weeks and months, it is not what everyone has wanted. The last two years was fantastic and the step to the Premier League was very close.
“Now, we must prepare for Friday and then, step by step, I hope to give the team a lot of confidence and make the fans happy with what they see when we play football.”
Luhukay inherits an Owls side that has a raft of injuries and are 16th in the Championship, just six points above the relegation zone.
He said: “We are 16th and the way to upstairs is long. First, we must become stable.
“There are a lot of injuries to very good players. I must try to get the best out of those players here so they can, hopefully, take us upstairs. That is the intention. Also, the players who are not there now can come back.”
Ex-Netherlands Under-21 coach Remy Reynierse will assist Luhukay. The pair worked together at VfB Stuttgart.
“I am very motivated to make the best for this club,” said Luhukay.
“Together, we must do some intensive work, What I will do first is learn about the players and their quality. And also their character.
Now the confidence is not so big. When you win every game, you have confidence. But now I must learn about them as people and the qualities they have. That is my job. To do the best team on Friday and then go from game to game.”