Sheffield Wednesday: Why the Owls are responding to '˜Mini Dictator' Jos Luhukay

Jos LuhukayJos Luhukay
Jos Luhukay
It caused quite a stir in the football fraternity when Sheffield Wednesday named little-known Jos Luhukay as manager just over three weeks ago.

Luhukay, renowned in Germany as an expert in leading teams to the Bundesliga, was unheralded in England.

You could have forgiven a large proportion of the Owls squad for scrolling through Google to learn more about the man tasked with resurrecting their disappointing season.

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But Glenn Loovens was already well aware of his Dutch compatriot’s track record.

“I knew of Jos in Holland and that he had done some great work in Germany with the teams he got promoted with,” Loovens told The Star. “I knew his history but I didn’t know him as a person.”

If the players didn’t know who the quietly-spoken Luhukay was before, they certainly do now.

Luhukay is big on discipline. The 54-year-old has been called ‘Napoleon’, ‘The Little General’ and ‘The Mini Dictator’.

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Glenn LoovensGlenn Loovens
Glenn Loovens

“Jos keeps the team on a tight rein,” said former Germany international Oliver Neuville, who worked under Luhukay at Borussia Monchengladbach.

“Discipline is very important to him. I remember when two of the players were out on the evening of the derby with Koln. He hit the roof. They didn’t play again for weeks.”

Luhukay, who has a wealth of experience and a coaching CV that boasts seven clubs and three promotions to the Bundesliga, has made a number of tweaks to the Owls’ approach. Players are reporting earlier for training, eating breakfast and lunch together and the team are staying in hotels on the day of home matches.

Luhukay’s attention to detail has impressed Loovens.

Atdhe Nuhiu enjoys himself against ReadingAtdhe Nuhiu enjoys himself against Reading
Atdhe Nuhiu enjoys himself against Reading

He said: “Jos has changed our preparation. We have meals together now. It is all part of team-bonding and creating that togetherness. It is Jos’s philosophy and it seems to be working.”

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On the field, Wednesday have switched to a three-man defence. The emphasis has been on going back to basics and keeping clean sheets. Luhukay has improved the shape and balance of the team.

“We have changed formation so we are a bit more solid,” acknowledged Loovens.

“Winning does a lot for teams.

“When you start losing, it is the little things people get annoyed about.

“We had to make sure we tightened up one or two things which would help us play well as a team. It was important we did that.”

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The Owls are unbeaten under Luhukay, recording two victories in the FA Cup and picking up two well-earned draws against promotion hopefuls Sheffield United and Cardiff City.

Wednesday will be hoping the left-field appointment pays off and Luhukay leads them back into the Premier League after an 18-year absence.

Loovens said: “Jos was very strict and organised in Germany and he has brought that here. Sometimes a change is what is needed.

“Jos is a bit strict on discipline but the boys have picked it up well and we are fighting for each other as a team again.

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“I can only say Jos is a gentleman on and off the pitch. He’s a pleasure to work with.”

Luhukay won a duel of Dutch managers on Friday night, masterminding the Owls’ 3-1 triumph over Jaap Stam’s Reading outfit. Victory booked their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in four years.

Loovens said: “We started a bit sloppy in the first half but we eventually settled down. Defensively we did okay.

“I thought we lacked a bit going forward in the first half but we changed the system in the second and were much better offensively. Defensively we stayed strong.

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“We deserved the win and it was important we got back to winning ways. The cup can give you momentum.”

Atdhe Nuhiu scored twice either side of half-time as the Owls overcame the Royals. Nuhiu has now notched three goals in the competition.

“I was really pleased for Atdhe he scored two goals,” said Loovens. “He’s a guy who hasn’t played that much (this year) but he never moans. He always works hard and does extra work in training and when you need him he’s always there for you.

“Atdhe is very important to the team and a joy have around. He spurs other players on. He leads by example and it’s what we need.”

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Luhukay’s side will find out who they will face in the last 16 tomorrow evening.

The draw takes place on the BBC’s ‘The One Show’ programme around 7:20pm and Wednesday are ball number six.

Their progress in the cup means their home tussle with Derby County, scheduled for Saturday February 17 will be rearranged.

The Owls return to Championship duty on Tuesday night with a trip to Middlesbrough. Boro bowed out of the cup over the weekend afer a late strike by Brighton and Hove Albion striker Glenn Murray.

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Loovens said: “We all know Middlesbrough are a tough team, especially away from home. They have got some good players.

“We have to play as a team again, like we have done in the past couple of games and I think we can get a positive result.”

Despite their promising start to life under Luhukay, Wednesday remain just seven points above the Championship relegation zone.

“Jos has not really spoken about targets, to be honest,” said Loovens.

“We all know when he came in we were in a bit of a difficult situation.

“Our main thing now is to buy into his ways and climb up the table.”