PRESS | Luhukay laments hectic schedule

PRESS | Luhukay laments hectic schedule

Jos Luhukay faced the press today on the back of Saturday’s defeat against Bristol City, and the mid-week FA Cup loss to Swansea.

Compared to Mark Lawrenson’s tv commentary on the Swansea game – somewhere between life, death and wishing he was somewhere else – Jos seemed positively animated.

There was no post-mortem by the press, just some gentle prodding to assess how much life is left in Wednesday’s season.

A quick check of the vital signs isn’t too reassuring.

Yes, the Owls are still breathing the rarefied air of the Championship, but has the chairman got the heart to keep us there? The temperature is hotting up as we join the scramble for 50 points and ‘safety’.

And none of this is doing the fans’ blood pressure any good.

The manager was asked twice whether the task in hand was more difficult than he had anticipated.

Given he was hailed on arrival as a promotion expert and now finds himself fielding questions about relegation, we can guess the answer.

Luhukay doesn’t hide behind excuses, but he mentions two aspects of his brief stint that, in his view, explain the club’s predicament.

 

No respite

 

One is specific to Wednesday, the other a reflection of the English game. And the two are probably connected.

Mark Lawrenson’s response to the news that Wednesday had twelve players out injured was a throw-away, “Yeah, but how many of them are from the first team.” He said that live on air. Carpets across Sheffield still bear the stains of beer, tea and venom spluttered in response.

Lawro: a popular voice on BBC One last week

This time last year, the Owls had just thrashed Norwich 5-1 and lay in sixth place.

At least nine of the first-picks who had lifted us there are now ever-presents on the treatment table rather than the pitch. Some, it seems are running out of time to regain match fitness before this season of tears and torn tendons ends.

Injuries, then, are reason number one.

Reason number two is the non-stop conveyor belt of matches in the English game. Jos must have known about that beforehand, but the reality has taken him by surprise.

“[In Germany] normally we play from Saturday to Saturday and have training in the week… Sometimes four, five or six sessions.

“And [here] we have only two or one session before the next game.

“You have always the games, the games, the games… I like that we have a lot of games, but the big difference is we don’t have time to train.”

“Dancing with tears in my eyes, weeping for the memory of a life gone by”

The argument goes that between Saturday’s mauling in Bristol and Tuesday evening’s visit of Ipswich, Jos and his players are focussing more on recovery than improvement. And calling on their inner mental strength. “Confidence” and “strong minds” are needed to bounce back from losing to a better side.

Meanwhile, the team that couldn’t score still can’t score. And the early run of goalless draws now seems like the good old days for a side that has leaked eight in its past two league matches.

With eleven games to go, our end of season excitements will come from checking off the thirteen or so points we need to guarantee survival. Who’d have thought it?

With two crucial home matches to start the run-in, the fun begins on Tuesday evening.

Tuesday

 

Imagine.

You’re lying in intensive care.

Through the haze of your induced coma you hear a booming voice. Of all the people to pop their head around the curtain as you cling to life, it’s Mick McCarthy.

 

‘Nurse! Nuuuuuurse!’

If Bristol City “made us nervous, losing the ball … so confidence goes down,” how does Jos rate the Tractor Boys?

Mick’s Ipswich side present our first opportunity to work towards that new safety target. We certainly haven’t taken many points off them in the past few seasons.

The boss has seen the videos and describes our visitors as a “a difficult team” with good structure and strikers. Gulp.

With little time to prepare his team, the message is about attitude above tactics. If all goes to plan, we can expect to see Wednesday imposing themselves – “taking the game from the first minute” – rather than sitting back.

“Fighting for everything,” he says.

If that’s the case, the virtuous circle of better defending and creating more chances will be completed by the fans stepping up to create a good atmosphere – “the helping hand behind the team,” as Jos describes it.

From JL’s perspective Tuesday is all about the new – a new challenge, a new game, a new chance.

Let’s see if we can breathe some new life into our season and start planning for a healthier future.


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

Images: SWFC, unless stated.


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