No-one wants a meaningless, meandering end to any season. But Sheffield Wednesday have an opportunity to extract something positive from this negative. To start as early as possible with preparations for next season, if they haven’t done already.
In the last two seasons, with commitments in the play-offs, it was near enough the end of May before the Owls could take stock of which division they would be in and act accordingly. This time, the broad scenario has been predictable for many weeks.
It’s a fine line on making decisions on out-of-contract players because you need to keep them on heat for the remaining games. On the other hand, it can be helpful to a club - and those individuals - to mark their card, allowing them to put out feelers and, in the case of those who might be available for sale, to alert the market.
So I think the earlier the better now for making these calls and also prioritising what is needed regarding movement in and out of the club. Fundamental to this is the manager.
The presumption has been that Jos Luhukay will remain in charge. No-one knows for certain but I think he will. If there was a doubt – and you can never be certain of anything in this game - then, even more urgently than with the players, it’s helpful to have this clarified. Time is of the essence, especially over any possibility of a change.
Certainly, I don’t feel anyone can pin a judgment on the three remaining games. Or that the Dutch coach has had a proper chance to be measured as yet.
Admittedly, results and performances have been patchy and unconvincing (five wins and seven defeats in 17 league games).
Projected across a full season, that would be under 60 points and nowhere near the club’s expectations. Some of the selections and tactics have been questionable.
But you have to consider the background to Luhukay’s appointment at the turn of the year.
While there was time to make up ground on at least the aim of the play-offs, the conditions have never favoured him to achieve this. Having up to ten senior players injured, some reappearing and disappearing again, has prevented any continuity or knowledge of his best available side.
Bringing in youngsters, some of whom have impressed, was not simply an act of necessity but a worthwhile bridge to the future as the squad is reshaped. Luhukay is to be commended for taking that step, albeit, as a new manager, it carried less personal risk than for his pressured predecessor.
Or at least we assume it carried less risk. You’d reckon Luhukay would expect to continue and there has been nothing to suggest otherwise.
Given the necessary assurances, which Luhukay already has for all we know, then it’s vital to make an early start on a busy summer. There is a narrower window this year, too, with closure coming at the start of the new season rather than the end of August.
Luhukay needs to be at the forefront of decision-making to master his own destiny and I imagine he envisages a younger, leaner, more streamlined squad for next season.
As for his own profile, the head coach is starting to lighten up, showing a bit more personality as he adjusts to the language.
He’s well liked by those who’ve met him and deal with him. I doubt there are many supporters who would begrudge him this opportunity.