`

Sheffield Wednesday: The first six months of Jos Luhukay's Owls reign

Jos Luhukay
Jos Luhukay
0
Have your say

He began his reign with one for the purists: a dull, goalless stalemate when his side shut up shop in pursuit of Steel City derby credibility.

He signed off for 2017/18 with a five-goal blitz as his Sheffield Wednesday side finished their Championship campaign with a flourish.

Jos Luhukay with Atdhe Nuhiu

Jos Luhukay with Atdhe Nuhiu

In between, came a mix of good and not so good. Encouragingly, there was more of the former than the latter.

Manager Jos Luhukay celebrates six months in charge of the Owls tomorrow, his half-year report showing he's stabilised the club and has Wednesday heading towards opening day in better shape than he found them when he replaced Carlos Carvalhal in January.

Last season's injury crisis has eased and Luhukay has another month of pre-season with his squad before the pursuit of promotion to the Premier League begins again, on August 4 at Wigan Athletic.

"It is good now that we have time to train," he said. "When I came, we had no time. It was a game every three days. Also, we have six, seven eight injured players back training now."

The 0-0 draw at Bramall Lane on Friday January 12 instantly endeared him to Owls followers who had been smarting for more than three months about the 4-2 Hillsborough shame against Sheffield United.

But there were lows before the real highs, most infamously the 'Night of No Striker' at the New Den on February 20 when Wednesday lined up without a frontman on their way to a 2-1 defeat.

That prompted a run of five successive losses that included dire displays in a 4-0 surrender at Bristol City and a 2-1 home reverse against Ipswich Town.

Then, two things happened. Injured key men finally started to leave the treatment room. And Luhukay put his faith in frontman and perennial substitute Atdhe Nuhiu.

The size of Nuhiu's scoring impact as a starter matched the centre-forward's hulking frame. He hit nine goals in eight matches as the Owls - with Sam Hutchinson, Barry Bannan and Fernando Forestieri all back in the side and another previously out-of-favour striker, Lucas, backed to show the Joao factor - signed off with six wins and a draw in their last nine outings.

Relegation fears gave way to a midtable finish.

"Atty was fantastic for me and scored some important goals," Luhukay said.

"It helps that more trust has been placed in him than before and he is more confident. He performed very well in every game he played."

Luhukay's waiting game paid off. He refused to rush back injured players during that five-loss spell and insisted they tested their fitness in under-23 games first. Hutchinson and the others duly rewarded his caring touch.

Fans liked the fact that youngsters such as Jordan Thorniley, Cameron Dawson and Ash Baker were given their chance and a 4-2 April 10 defeat at QPR was a rare blip as Luhukay made his late-season mark.

Last-day Sunday saw Norwich City smashed 5-1 on May 6 and three-goal Nuhiu driving home with the matchball.

"The feeling between Atty and me is very positive," said Luhukay.

As is the feeling for 2018/19 between club and six-month manager.

For more news from Hillsborough click here