“We must be careful but not afraid!” – Jos

“We must be careful but not afraid!” – Jos

Joey Pelupessy made an upbeat appearance at today’s press conference.

The 24-year-old Dutchman smiled his way through questions about his move to Wednesday, settling into Sheffield, and the prospect of a relegation battle.

Unsurprisingly, the latest member of the S6 Dutch contingent has sought out his compatriots, looking up to the veteran Glen Loovens – “He has a quiet style, but you can see he is the captain in the dressing room” – and getting advice on cars and houses from fellow young gun, Joost van Aken.

Pelupessy tells us he gets his apartment today after three weeks in a hotel. He already has his car. The priorities of youth.

He rates his English as “ok” [it’s excellent], which means he’s chatting away and bonding well with all “the guys,” not just the Oranjes.

So, with a new home, wheels and team mates sorted, how does the midfielder feel about playing in the Championship?

He singles out the difference in tempo as the big challenge, but “That’s what I came for.”

The Dutchman makes an interesting observation about his first game for the Owls, the FA Cup win over Reading.

Pelupessy enjoyed a winning start in the Cup

“Normally in Holland at three zero everyone is like ‘ok, it’s done.’

We had to play ten minutes or something and I saw, for example, George Boyd still running and pressing in the last ten minutes. That’s the difference.”

Imagine learning that lesson while you’re in the thick of it, on the field of play.

Pelupessy is a reminder to us all just why new players need space, time and support to learn and adapt, on and off the pitch.

So, well done to van Aken for looking out for the newbie on the domestic front.

On the work front, however, Luhukay’s first signing has been thrown in at the deep end. “I didn’t expect I would have to play three games so far,” he says before adding with a shrug, “The manager told me [about the injury list]. That’s how it is. We have to play with the players who are fit.”

 

Injury, injury, they’ve all got an injury

 

Poor Jos Luhukay. He came to Wednesday expecting the thrills and spills of plotting tactical formations in English football. Instead his first five weeks are more akin to the role of an NHS bed manager.

With Fletcher confirmed out for the rest of the season, Luhukay announces today that Matias has picked up an injury that may side-line him for three weeks.

The number 19 has been struck by the curse of the Hillsborough Knee quicker than the time it took to celebrate his red card against Birmingham being rescinded.

Matias: cleared from suspension, injured

The trend for health tourism has also reached S6, with Forestieri still availing himself of the medical facilities in Italy while he sits out month five of what may be a seven-month absence.

To his credit, although the manager shows some bewilderment at the exceptional level of injuries in the squad, and while he says more than once that the crisis took hold “before my time,” he doesn’t dwell on the negative.

Inevitably, some social media sages have assessed the situation and pointed their fully qualified health practitioners’ fingers at Wednesday’s medical team.

But the manager is having none of it – stressing they work hard, and always with a “good attitude.”

Yet you don’t have to be a cynic, or bonkers, to sense that even when news from the treatment room is bright, there has been a pattern of early discharge, aggravated injury and speedy readmission.

Keiren Westwood, Barry Bannan and Tom Lees are back on the waiting list, with Lees reportedly closest to packing up his washbag and PJs and returning to the fray.

On their way back…

And if Bannan’s midfield industry is being missed, what about Kieran Lee?

After a lengthy lay-off and too short return before succumbing again to his hip problem, the source of so many good things over the past few seasons is fading in our memories and even attracting online rumours of early retirement.

Luhukay counters the speculation head on, “We have positive information about Kieran Lee’s situation, so we are not afraid he won’t be coming back.” Good news.

And the other seven or eight (could be nine by the time you read this) on the list? “It’s important not to pressurise players into returning before they’re fully fit…” True that.

Meanwhile, Luhukay’s induction to the Championship includes speaking to the club doctor every day and signing off the timesheets for physios putting in twelve-hour shifts.

All this as we enter a period of five games in two weeks. The first of which is away to Barnsley.

 

Saturday

 

Pelupessy: enjoying the challenge

Pelupessy gets the derby thing from both a player’s and a fan’s point of view.

He describes former club Heracles Almelo’s meetings with fierce local rivals FC Twente as “one of my favourite games…” and he understands the emotional toll, “for fans, the club, for everyone if you lose that game you are more disappointed than normal.”

Wednesday’s new number 32, can’t wait for the trip that’s “just 20 minutes by bus.”

I’m guessing he means the team bus with police escort rather than the X65 from Leppings Lane.

Our hosts were 11th in the table when we visited Oakwell last season. Wednesday were 6th. That was then.

This is now, and the Tykes are just one place off the drop zone, with the Owls not so far above them as to feel smug or safe.

Last year, Sam Winnall returned to his former club in a Wednesday shirt and scored the equaliser. It’s one of those football truths, isn’t it? The returning player always scores.

Then there’s that other football truth about teams suddenly finding their form when the manager leaves.

To some, Saturday’s match with newly managerless Barnsley has the look of a relegation six-pointer. “Relegation? No, I don’t think so,” says Joey. Got to love him.

Jos describes it more as a potential turning point, a chance to build a gap between his team and the dreaded, unthinkable trap door into League One.

His first task is to assemble a squad of the fit, able to counter Barnsley’s tactics of piling on pressure, forcing mistakes and defending high.

There’s every indication this could involve giving more under-23s a run out – “Every day I look to the academy, to the young players,” he says, while stressing he will pace their introduction and their recovery.

Reach scored in our last meeting

Luhukay’s English, always more than ok, gets better with every press conference.

But you know even in his first or second language he’s probably not a poet. Which is why it’s such a pleasant surprise today to hear his cautious but lyrical rallying cry: “We must be careful but not afraid.”

It probably won’t replace ‘Consilio et Animis’ on the club crest, but it certainly captures the mood after the huge disappointment of last week’s unlucky moments and poor decisions.

Optimist or pessimist, no-one thinks it’s going to be pretty or easy, but Saturday gives us all a chance to move on.


Angela
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: owlsalive@gmail.com
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @ABGalvin

Images: SWFC, unless stated.


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