Video: Sheffield Wednesday will be fitter and better prepared for Steel City derby thanks to Luhukay, says George Boyd
It's fair to say that new manager Jos Luhukay has made a big impression at Sheffield Wednesday ... even after just a few days.
“Training has been a lot harder, which we needed. He is in-depth and there has been a lot of meetings for him to implement his ideas. That has been good.
“He has only been here a few days and it will take a few weeks and months to get his ideas fully across. But it has been a good week.”
That was Owls midfielder George Boyd, giving what would be an eyebrow-raising indication that the denials coming from previous incumbent of the manager’s chair, Carlos Carvalhal, that he may not have been pushing the players hard enough wasn’t a universally-held opinion.
It was a criticism fired at the team in the wake of very many, very poor performances during which, collectively, they appeared as though they were struggling towards the end of games.
The question mark over their fitness, or lack thereof, was batted away, presumably, it would seem, to save face at a difficult time.
Boyd certainly believes the team were ill-equipped for the challenge of a Championship season.
“We weren’t fit enough,” he added. “The training has been different, a lot more high intensity. Even when Bully (interim manager Lee Bullen) came in, the intensity went up a lot. We need to be fitter and this will help.
“Injuries (to the squad) have not been helping but we are slowly getting bodies back and hopefully can start moving up the table.
“We know as a team we need to be fitter and we will be from now on.”
The new man at the helm comes to South Yorkshire with a reputation garnered in Germany, as a disciplinarian, a man not to be crossed.
While Boyd, who ended a four-month spell on the sidelines with a shoulder injury by returning to the squad last week in the FA Cup match against Carlisle, has yet to see that fierce side of Luhukay, he does appear to welcome this new, more firm approach.
The 32 year-old revealed what had changed over the course of the last few days.
“Little things like meetings, the times we eat, when we have to be in for and having double sessions most days,” he said. “Discipline is definitely a big change in these last few days. No-one has been late. Being in for certain times, we haven’t had that before.
“It was quite laid-back under Carlos. It is very regimented (now).
“(Luhukay) is quite softly spoken but I can imagine him being firm and strict when needed.”
That firm approach shouldn’t be needed tonight when Luhukay sends out a side for the first time.
The white-hot atmosphere of a Steel City derby greets the Dutchman, who in his press conference yesterday, appeared quite relaxed about the prospect, though certainly not playing it down.
For Boyd, a summer recruit from Burnley, it’s an opportunity he is relishing after spending so long unable to help his new side during what has been a hugely disappointing campaign.
The midfielder made no secret of the frustration he felt during what was his first lengthy spell out injured.
“I have never been injured before,” he said. “I did it against Rangers (in pre-season), someone fell on the back of me.
“I continued playing but it was causing me problems.
“Then, I fell on it again in the Forest game and the bone popped out. I needed two operations. Fully healed now but very frustrating.
He added: “It was frustrating because I knew I wasn’t 100 per cent fit in the first games. Now, though, I am fully firing.
“Not having been injured it has been hard to get my head round it. But now I am ready to kick on.”
And he’ll be looking to ‘kick on’ in his first experience of a Sheffield derby having missed the 2017/18 season’s first chapter in September.
“This is the one you look for when I first signed,” he said. “What a game for me personally to come back into straight away. I can’t wait.
“Friday night on the TV, it doesn’t get much better.”
“It will be a proper derby, getting amongst each other,” he added. “Hopefully, our quality will shine through.
“Make tackles and win the 50-50, that is what we have to do. We need to have a right go.
“Press them and let them know we are there. Run around and work 100 per cent.”
Boyd makes it sound frantic and it’s likely to be just that.
United will look back at what they achieved at Hillsborough during that 4-2 win and feel that they can replicate that performance.
Boyd, while acknowledging the quality in the Blades side, says Wednesday will not allow a repeat.
“They got confidence from last season and carried it on,” he said of United. “I was impressed with them at our place.
“There are no massive names in the team but they all work hard and fight for each other. They will be confident after the last game but we won’t let that happen again.”