Lee Bullen wasn’t expecting to spend his Christmas picking the Sheffield Wednesday team, but that hasn’t stopped the interim boss from relishing the opportunity that’s been handed to him.
The former Owls skipper was handed the reigns at the Hillsborough helm on Christmas Eve following the departure of Carlos Carvalhal after two-and-a-half years in charge.
And Bullen, who has Neil Thompson and Andy Rhodes working alongside him, has described the opportunity as his ‘dream job’, even if it lasts no longer than the three to four game remit he has initially been given by chairman Dejphon Chansiri.
Things began brightly after a 3-0 win at Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day and Bullen says he is happy to keep the role for as long as it takes for a new man to be placed in charge.
“As an ex-Sheffield Wednesday player and a fan I’ve got my dream job here for two or three weeks,” said Bullen ahead of his second match in charge, at Brentford on Saturday.
“I am very, very lucky to have this opportunity, I am very, very lucky to have the academy staff and Andy Rhodes around me to help me through it but ultimately the chairman has to make the right decision for the football club, not the right decision for Lee Bullen.
“If he needs me to do it for a little bit longer then I am here to do it.
“But it’s not an easy one for him.
“He’s got to take advice from a lot of people and make his decision on that. I am here to support everything he needs me to do.”
It’s not an easy job for Bullen to undertake.
The frantic festive fixture schedule means that there has been limited opportunity for the interim coaching team to hammer home their ideas on the training pitch.
That’s not to mention the fact that almost a full starting XI is currently unavailable through injury.
To that end, it’s a case of sitting down with the players and explaining what he wants them to do.
Trust has been a word he has already used regularly in this short time in charge and that, he feels, is key.
“We have had a couple of days but it’s more about information,” he said.
“Sometimes you can give them information overload, I’ve tried to keep things as simple as possible but it’s more a case of speaking to certain players with ideas we have got, theories we have got on the opposition.
“The theory we had against Forest will be different against Brentford because they offer different questions. It’s sitting down with players and discussing players how they are feeling coming out of the last game and making sure the guys on the bench are ready to go.
“It’s been a bit manic, you don’t have time on the grass but it’s a time for trust in the players that are available, trust in their knowledge, their experience and their belief in each other to try and put the plan into operation.
“We did it against Forest and it’s up to me to trust them and allow them to express themselves.”
While trust is a huge factor, Bullen has made it clear what he expects from the side he puts out and he believes it has to reflect the working-class values held by those fans who continually turn up in their numbers to watch the team.
“We’ve lost a few games this season but it’s not about losing the games, it’s been about the performance and the fans of Sheffield Wednesday want is players on the pitch to roll their sleeves up and go out and fight,” said the Scot.
“This is a working class city , there are guys that have grown up working in the steelworks or whatever and they want to go out on a Saturday and watch their football team win but just as importantly they want to see players give the maximum they can give.
“They want to see them throwing themselves in front of the ball, making blocks like Sam Hutchinson and David Jones did in the last five minutes against Forest.
“They want to see guys busting their backside to get into the oppositions 18 yard box, if it doesn’t work they want to see them busting their backsides to get back, like Lucas Joao did, Almen Abdi, Adam Reach, Ross Wallace. They want to see people taking chances, they want to see forward passes, they want to see crosses into the box.
“It’s not necessarily about being more attack-minded it’s about rolling their sleeves up.
“Not that they haven’t been, the boys have been working their tails off, they work hard but its about having that freedom to express themselves and allied to the hard work they showed at Forest sometimes you get the luck you need.”