Alan Biggs’ Sheffield Wednesday column: Opportunity knocks for manager Jos Luhukay

Owls Manager Jos Luhukay....Pic Steve Ellis
Owls Manager Jos Luhukay....Pic Steve Ellis

There are very few “must win” games when it comes down to it. Or pairs of games that are bigger than others.

But you do sense that the coming week’s Hillsborough double-header could shape the rest of the season.

Certainly, Sheffield Wednesday’s manager will better know afterwards where he stands with the Hillsborough crowd. Jos Luhukay is on a see-saw which has tipped forwards and backwards with results.

It can just as easily tip back the other way and an opportunity beckons to stabilise both the club and Luhukay’s own position.

Defeats to both Derby, on Saturday, and Bolton, next Tuesday, (or less than three points from the two) can’t be contemplated with the Owls only four points above the bottom three.

Let’s look at it the other way, though. What would be an acceptable or good return? I’d say four points.

Bolton stands out as a game you must look to win with Phil Parkinson’s side second-bottom currently.

Strangely, it may prove the harder of the two creatively. Bolton are as close as you come to the old long ball team, launching forwards from an often massed defence. Derby will come out to play. Frank Lampard’s side will want to reassert themselves after dropping to sixth place in a 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.

Wednesday will get chances to score in this game but they will also require the defensive standards of the 0-0 draw at Bramall Lane to gain some reward.

Luhukay’s selection and tactics will leave all of us guessing, as ever.

The added importance of these two games must be to gain some much-needed consistency and continuity in that regard.

Where a puzzle remains is that the nature of the two opponents is very different and Luhukay tends to try to adapt accordingly.

Ultimately it’s about results. The ends usually justify the means. But there is an undeniable case for Wednesday identifying a style, sticking to it and looking to impose on opponents rather than the other way around.

Sheffield Star columnist and former Owls skipper Jon Newsome is right when he says the team lacks a sense of identity. So, too, was Luhukay when he talked in an interview with a Dutch publication of the need for players to take more responsibility to adjust during games and take hold of them.

Bringing these two things together is the key. Maybe you can’t have one without the other.

Where it gets confusing is that, where young players are in the process of establishing themselves, some inconsistency, and therefore change, is inevitable.

And what seems just as likely is that Wednesday’s season will continue to be one of peaks and troughs.

To carry the crowd, Luhukay needs to look after today in order to get to his vision of tomorrow. A very tricky balance.

But this is clearly a man who doesn’t fear the sack, having publicly admitted in a Dutch publication what I have long suspected here – that he was as surprised as anyone to land the Owls job, which he indicated might be his last in football.

He will not be pressured into doing anything he feels compromises the legacy he wishes to leave, which is leaving the club in a position to progress after a period of pain.

And that, at least, can be a positive at a time of unpopular decisions and the likelihood of more having to be made.