Jos Luhukay should be doing better as Sheffield Wednesday manager, no question. But let’s ask – by how much?
Is it a top two squad? No-one says so. Is it top six? Only at a very big push – which looks unlikely in every sense.
So then, how much better should the Owls be doing?
They’re currently on 20 points. Allowing that most fans haven’t baulked at 10th being about par for the course with this injury-hit group, in a season of transition from experience to youth, this is how far Luhukay is lagging behind: Six points. Two wins.
Notwithstanding the recent run (unacceptable in isolation but colouring everything), ask yourself: Is that sackable? Yet?
There are slender margins in this game. I think Luhukay knew full well, despite trying to hide it, how precious that Bramall Lane derby point was for him personally. Still, he was subjected to social media comments unfairly ridiculing and rubbishing him.
Not sure a defeat, unless heavy, would have seen him out but calls for his head would have become deafening.
He’s far from out of the woods yet, needing short-term respectability to balance a brave longer-term vision that some have branded brave and others foolhardy.
I go with the former. It’s a virtual fact that Wednesday will part with a raft of experienced high earners when their contracts are up. It may well also be necessary to sell a star player or two.
What’s Luhukay supposed to do in the meantime? Just appease them all and go meandering on when everyone knows what the future holds? Or try to create a bridge to that future now?
He’s surely right to go with the latter. And I think in doing that he is a much stronger character than he looks.
This is not an apology for mediocrity and I’ll accept that Luhukay has made mistakes, too many, with selections and formations.
Let’s hope he sticks with the triple centre back system of the derby with the same three players. It’s been the season’s best platform going forward, too, requiring, as the head coach well knows, more adventure than he was understandably prepared to risk last Friday.
Let’s be clear. That wasn’t a typical Wednesday approach and performance this season. Luhukay has tried to be far more offensive.
Games have been attacked and chances missed (QPR, Birmingham, Norwich); it’s that as much as poor defending that forced him into a temporary retreat.
How many players has he been able to sign? Three of low budget. Of those, two have done ok. Joey Pelupessy may not be pleasing on the eye but, tell you this, the gritty midfielder looks a tough personality and the Owls have few, if any, natural leaders.
Michael Hector has impressed at the back and should never have been left out. Meanwhile, more is expected of Josh Onomah.
Finally, it’s not Luhukay’s fault that he is who he is. You can’t blame him for not being Mick McCarthy or Steve Bruce or any of the other names constantly on supporters’ lips.
He’s the manager by choice of an owner and chairman who, whether you agree with him or not, is stauncher in his support of managers than most others. That’s not a bad quality to have.
Luhukay has to be unwavering, too, to see through the job he has started.
Make no mistake, the circumstances (so different to the Carlos Carvalhal reign) would have been damn difficult for anyone.
It’s not as if the Owls can throw a big cheque book at a replacement because of FFP restrictions. I wish Luhukay luck and the success his fortitude deserves in his attempts to turn around both results and public opinion.