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Sheffield Wednesday: Owls look to get back to basics defensively after Wigan horror-show

Jos Luhukay is demanding the Owls tighten up defensively.
Jos Luhukay is demanding the Owls tighten up defensively.
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It is not often Jos Luhukay has lost his temper and shown his nasty side on the training ground.

But the Wednesday boss has revealed he exchanged stern, frank words with his players at their Middlewood Road base this week.

Luhukay was left frustrated by the Owls' defending against Wigan.

Luhukay was left frustrated by the Owls' defending against Wigan.

Saturday’s defeat at Wigan Athletic was not the way Luhukay envisaged the team kicking off the 2018-19 season. The Owls were too open and easy to play against as the Latics racked up 21 shots at goal.

Luhukay has held a number of team meetings and subjected his first-team squad to hours of video work since their poor showing at the DW Stadium.

“We lost as a collective (at Wigan),” he said. “As a team we were not good defending, and in transition, there were too many loose balls.

“We know this team can play so much better.”

Wednesday’s rearguard was breached on three occasions but, in truth, Wigan could and should have scored more goals.

Luhukay said: “We have to get back to basics.

“I was totally disappointed (with our defending against Wigan). We have spoken a lot with the players in the last days.

“We have not had to integrate new players, which is why it was also a very big disappointment that we didn’t defend good as a team.

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“We have analysed the game and what we did. We know that we must look to ourselves and we have respect for Hull City on Saturday.

“We must help each other more to have a better game.”

Tomorrow’s Hillsborough assignment with Hull gives the Owls an opportunity to make amends.

“Things can change fast in football,” said Luhukay. “Last week, was maybe not good but on Saturday it can be good.

“It can always change when you have a different opponent.

“I think this team will do things better than last Saturday. We must do it for ourselves and our fans.”

Wednesday will be without the services of Atdhe Nuhiu, who is serving a one-match suspension following his sending off last weekend. Lucas Joao is in line to replace Nuhiu up front.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility Luhukay could switch from a 3-5-2 formation to 3-4-3, with Joao, Marco Matias and Steven Fletcher pushing for starting places.

He acknowledged: “We played two formations in the last couple of months of last season. In pre-season, we played one formation in the first half and another one in the second.

“It (3-5-2) is not new to the players and they know what to expect.

“It is why it was disappointing we couldn’t find a good direction (against Wigan).”

For Luhukay, the key is to tighten up at the back and execute their game plan better.

“It didn’t matter what formation we played last Saturday,” he said. “When you as a team do not find a way on how you are going to defend, then no formation can have stability.

“On the ball, you must have a rest. We sometimes play too early and don’t have a good feeling.”

Nothing has been straight forward for Luhukay on or off the pitch since he took over the reins. He inherited an injury-ravaged team and has been unable to significantly reshape his squad because of a transfer embargo.

For more news from Hillsborough click here

When asked if he was aware of the Owls’ financial limitations when he accepted the job last January, Luhukay replied: “No, I did not speak about that. It was not the same situation as the one we have now. It is different.

“Of course, it is not so easy. You can for yourself maybe not find the quality in positions that you maybe need to have.

“It is not that I don’t have trust in my team and players. I trust my team 100 per cent but when you have possibilites to find new players you look for extra quality which you maybe don’t have in this team or in positions and that is what is not possible.”

If Luhukay is frustrated by the situation, he hides it well.

“My motivation every day is to work with my players,” said Luhukay, whose team entertain Yorkshire neighbours Hull City tomorrow. “Of course, our fans too. What I saw on Saturday was unbelievably positive.

“We had 4,500 fans go to Wigan, what they gave us in support over 90 minutes, that’s why I am sat here.

“They gave me so much motivation.”

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