PRESS | Luhukay looks ahead to Villa

PRESS | Luhukay looks ahead to Villa

In an effort to unpick The Mysterious Incident at The Den, Jos Luhukay faces a cross examination today beyond the usual gentle workout from the press.

Observed by a party of exchange students from Azerbaijan (Land of Fire), the Dutchman is put on the spot to defend his team selection for Tuesday night’s defeat at Millwall.

We’re all experts in hindsight but I suspect many fans did a double-take when the line-up to face the Lions went public.

With all respect to 20-year-old Jack Stobbs, resting experienced strikers when facing beatable opponents seemed puzzling.

Sitting back with a weakened defence seemed risky. Either way, the opportunity to build a more comfortable gap between the Owls and the drop zone was lost.

Many a wiseacre suggests Jos would have been better off resting players on Saturday against third-placed Villa rather than dropping points against mid-table Millwall.

The manager doesn’t agree, reminding us we have taken four points from top sixers Cardiff and Derby, as well as holding Premiership (just) Swansea in the FA Cup.

Which is true. But we’ve also dropped points to trapdoor botherers Birmingham and Barnsley.

So, what’s it all about? Jos seems mildly surprised at the inquisition.

“When you win, this question is not coming,” he says. Had his team held onto their one-goal lead in the second half, the line of questioning might have been about a tactical masterstroke. But they didn’t, so it wasn’t.

Millwall’s second half comeback saw Jos face difficult questions today

To JL the answers are obvious – injuries, energy and fixtures.

The list of the crocked now stands at twelve, “ten from the first eleven” he says.

Rushing players like Joost van Aken and Barry Bannan back into the team too soon could set back their recovery.

Should professional footballers be fit enough to play more than once a week? Carlos often stated that Lucas João simply didn’t have the energy levels to follow a match on Saturday with another three days later.

Maybe so, but Jos would also rather not risk further strains and injuries, which is why key performers João, Reach and Nuhiu sat out most of the game on Tuesday.

João, who has blossomed under new management, came on with just 18 minutes left to turn his two goals under Luhukay to three.

And then there’s the impact of a crowded fixture list.

Joao: back in the fold on Saturday?

The replay with Swansea introduces a fifth game in a busy fortnight.

Not ideal when the boss is trying to protect young players from fatigue and manage the squad’s overall fitness.

It’s hard not to sympathise with a new coach trying to instil tactics and confidence when the time sequence is match day, rest day, training day, match day…

 

Where are we going?

 

This season is triggering flashbacks of the Hoover ‘free flights’ promotion.

Remember? Summary: simply buy a Hoover and you will be given free flights to the USA.

In the time it took me to nip out and purchase said domestic appliance the offer had been changed.

Due to ‘unexpected’ demand for free transatlantic travel, the flights were now restricted to Europe.

You still had to buy the Hoover.

So, I flew to Vienna. It wasn’t my first choice but by now it was the only route available. And it was free.

Thanks to Hoover I saw Austria (very clean) and possessed a vacuum cleaner with the suction power of a mouse with a straw (less clean).

“It means nothing to me, ohhhhhhh Vienna”

Back in S6 we have previously been encouraged to make a speculative investment on multi-year season tickets.

Summary: simply buy one and you will be transported to the Premiership in Wednesday’s centenary season.

Sounded great but… due to the unexpected cancellation of boarding passes for the top flight, we are now being pitched another five-year deal which according to the official website, “remains irrespective of the division in which Wednesday are plying their trade.”

So, for example, if the Owls are playing in the top tier in year five, you could be watching Premier League football at Hillsborough in 2022/23 for less than you pay for Championship football now!”

It’s actually not a bad deal; a Dyson rather than a Hoover, you might say. But you can’t help wondering whether we’ll be trade plying in the USA, Vienna or Walsall.

 

Saturday

 

The first press pass of the season touted Aston Villa as promotion contenders under the management of our nemesis, Steve Bruce.

Then came November, a trip to Villa Park, goals by Reach and Rhodes, three points to the Owls. Blimey.

Villa didn’t let that defeat disturb their steady rise up the table. And we didn’t use it as a springboard into the top six.

Was this moment actually this season? Are we sure? It does not feel like it.

Now lying third, Brucie’s team remain a good bet – “One of the clubs with a chance to go up to the Premier League” according to Jos and the bookies.

We know we are in for a tough match.

Jos expects a “hard and intensive” 90 minutes.

I’m not sure fans need their expectations managed on this one but, just in case, he offered the insight that “it will be very hard work on Saturday to come to a good result.”

Before we slump under a cloud of despondency, remember we’ll always have Derby.

As the boss says, in his first six weeks at the helm he has learned “in this league you can beat teams in the top or lose to teams at the bottom.”

Perhaps we’ll never understand what was going on at Millwall. Hopefully come May it won’t matter.

Time to bounce back?

Jos is learning, his players are learning. And as fans we maybe have to learn too.

To have more patience with a young squad and new manager. To keep a sense of perspective about the reality of Wednesday’s position in the football firmament vs our dreams of glory. And to support our team wherever it takes us (though I’d rather not go back to Walsall, I know I will if absolutely necessary).

Jos has asked the fans to create an atmosphere on Saturday to help his rag tag eleven against “a very strong team”.

Shall we give it a go and see where it takes us?


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

Images: SWFC, unless stated.


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