Sam Hutchinson voices Lucas Joao frustration and discusses Sheffield Wednesday recruitment record
Sheffield Wednesday sold the best striker in the Championship in Lucas Joao, according to their midfielder Sam Hutchinson.
Speaking ahead of the Owls’ clash with table-topping Norwich City on Sunday, Hutchinson was asked about Canaries top scorer Teemu Pukki but volunteered his opinion that it was Reading that had the best striker in the league.
“Last week we played against Lucas Joao,” he said on the Portuguese who left Wednesday for what is believed to have been a club-record sale back in 2019. “I played with him and for me I always said he was one of the best strikers in the Championship, he had everything.
“As long as you managed him and gave him that confidence, for me he was probably the best that I’ve faced. I’ve faced him in training and I know what he’s about.
“For me, the best striker in the Championship is Lucas Joao. Even when he was at Sheffield Wednesday, if you could get the best out of him, even in training he was always the best.”
Wednesday have had to redress the recruitment strategy in recent seasons. Joao is one of a number of big-name players to have left Hillsborough in that time, as well as Hutchinson himself, who made a dramatic return to the club in January after a short stint playing in Cyprus.
“I don’t think the players have felt sorry for themselves this season at all,” said Hutchinson. “It’s been a difficult season. A lot of players left last summer and a lot of experienced players left.
“A lot of goals left, a lot of creativity left. So it’s always going to be difficult when those players leave a club like that and you don’t really replace them with that amount of goals and creativity, you’re going to struggle in some places. But that’s what it is.”
Asked what he thought about Wednesday’s recruitment record in recent seasons, he said: “Can you replace those players at this level without spending fortunes? I’m not sure.
“They’d done great to get them in. Joao was young when he came in, Fletch [Steven Fletcher] had been injured, Hoops [Gary Hooper] didn’t want to be at Norwich because he hadn’t been playing.
“Nando [Fernando Forestieri] was at Watford, a good signing but then he went on where you could sell him for £10m or whatever.
“Can they be replaced? I don’t know. I can’t say good or bad on the recruitment because at this level I don’t think you can replace that kind of player, I really don’t without spending fortunes, which you can’t do because of Financial Fair Play, so I think the club has had its hands tied.”
And was their any frustration as to the way things have gone?
“Well I was let go!,” he laughed. “I can only speak for myself, I was one of those as well. Look, what can you do?
“As players you can’t really do anything. We’ve been unlucky too, I’ve just seen Dom Iorfa, you miss someone like that at centre-half. We’ve had injuries.
“Sometimes you have a rough season. You take the rough with the smooth and keep fighting.”