PRESS | Luhukay looks to Leeds

PRESS | Luhukay looks to Leeds

Jos Luhukay and George Boyd faced the press today as we look towards this weekend’s clash with Leeds.

A match on St Patrick’s Day, a press conference on the Ides of March.

Difficult to know which date to run with but given Wednesday’s current position, the plot of Julius Caesar edges it.

Back-stabbing, all the injuries, conspiracy theories and false news reports; simmering tensions, with the crowd turning on their former heroes. It’s as if Shakespeare was channeling 2017-18 in S6.

Boyd rates our 150th year as “the most disappointing season in [his] career.”

The winger’s free transfer from Burnley was viewed as a neat piece of work last summer, until he became an early entry in volume one of the Owls’ injury ledger.

Being out between September and January is good reason for him to press fast forward to a fresh start in 2018-19.

Be careful what you wish for.

If this season has shown us anything, it’s that players in their early thirties can lose their pace, touch and confidence at an alarmingly fast rate.

We can all name current servants of the club whose powers are on the wane, with some sadness that they are ending their careers against a soundtrack of twitter boo boys.

Will the 32-year-old Boyd buck this trend and make a difference next season? Having seen so little of him playing in his preferred role, it’s impossible to say. He agrees.

“You’re not going to get the best of me at wing back,” he says. “It’s hard work, a lot of running… but I feel I’ve got the energy to do it.”

Boyd: revealed he is less comfortable at wing back

The number 21 is certainly confident next year will be different, even going so far as to claim, “the squad we’ve got can mount a serious promotion push.” George, don’t do that!

In the meantime, Jos must mount a gentle survival push.

There are so many examples of teams that were ‘too good to go down’ and yet still managed to achieve that thing – Forest, Newcastle, Villa, and our hosts on Saturday included.

On recent form Wednesday are not ‘too good to go down’, but we are blessed with sitting above at least three clubs whose form is even worse than ours.

As the clock ticks, the opportunities for any of these to leapfrog the Owls are lessening. But as long it’s mathematically possible we can obsess about it.

Boyd and others suggest two or three more wins will see us safe. “We’ll get it done as quick as we can,” he says.

 

Starting on Saturday?

 

Searching for momentum

“The remaining games are all winnable…”

Yes. But.

Having started his tenure with a draw against our city rivals, Luhukay has managed to coach just one league win out of his squad.

In fairness, gaining points from top six Cardiff, Derby and Middlesbrough was creditable. The lack of success in games that most would join Boyd in rating as ‘winnable’ has been beyond frustrating.

Last weekend’s draw with Bolton is a case in point.

The sucker punch last minute equaliser took any spring out of bringing our four-game losing streak to an end.

Boyd concedes “we should have seen [the match] out… We should have had enough.”

This is where the conspiratorial whispering in ears begins, again.

Why don’t we have enough? Injuries, contracts, shady deals.

Questions about Caesar’s, I mean Luhukay’s, qualifications to rule.

“The noblest Chairman of them all?”

Brutus/Chansiri finds letters in his house apparently written by Roman/Sheffield citizens worried that Caesar/(quite a few candidates here), has become too powerful.

It really is the stuff of drama. To bring some perspective, if you think Wednesday’s 2017-18 has been bad, Caesar’s 44 BC really didn’t end well.

I imagine he was grateful he didn’t have to face Leeds at Elland Road though.

 

Saturday

 

According to the popular ditty, we all hate Leeds. So that’s good. Something to bring us all together rather than fighting amongst ourselves. Hmm.

Back in October we beat the Whites 3 – 0 with goals from Hooper (2) and Lee. Remember them? Jos doesn’t.

He hasn’t had the luxury of considering these injured stalwarts in his two months at the helm.

Today we learn the new boss’s willingness to play young talent has also taken a blow, with the impressive Sean Clare ruled out for the rest of the season by an ankle injury.

You’ve got to feel for JL as he half fills his glass with updates on the imminent return of Bannan, Hutchinson and van Aken.

Strangers can be lovers again: rumours of a return for Hutch at Leeds continue

As one by one the wounded return to the fray, Jos focuses on the opportunities for players to show their skills, compete for places and give him options as a coach.

And having remarked on how the crowded fixture list has hampered his ability to spend time on training and tactics, the coach has had a full week with his players to learn from the disappointment of last weekend.

Does he agree with Boyd’s assessment that “tiredness” came into play against Bolton? Not really.

The boss thinks the game should have been wrapped up long before our 93rd minute defensive lapse.

His tactical white board will have a fair few arrows in the final third, where with typical openness he declares his side “did not make good decisions.”

The opportunities were there to cross the ball and use set pieces but, in his words, and before the fans eyes, “the ball goes everywhere.”

More incision in the final third required

Including the proverbial Row Z on too many occasions.

And he’s analysed the opposition as well. Praising their “unbelievable intensity” and reeling off the stats on goals and assists.

Boyd and Luhukay agree that both teams need a win. In short, Leeds have managed their traditional flirtation with the top six followed by a slow slide down the table, but this is a Yorkshire derby.

All bets are off other than it will be a blood and thunder affair. And Hutchinson may be fit enough to make the team sheet.

Jos understands the importance of this fixture to the fans – “you must give everything you have” he says.

Followed swiftly by “we must not give the ball away” and “we must take our chances.”

That just about covers it. Two middling teams battling it out. In his disarmingly straightforward way, Luhukay declares, “the position in the league is not lying.”

Shakespeare couldn’t attend the press conference, but he sent this message:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune…”

Will Saturday see Wednesday’s tide begin to turn? We can hope.


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

Images: SWFC, unless stated.


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