PRESS | Lees and Luhukay only focused on Fulham

PRESS | Lees and Luhukay only focused on Fulham

Tom Lees and Jos Luhukay used today’s press conference to big up the importance of the final games of Wednesday’s ‘memorable 150th year’™

Although six points over Easter have (surely) steered the Owls to safety there is no sense that Luhukay and his players will ease off.

Drifting towards the end of this season horribilis is not an option.

Lees has found the lows difficult to watch from the side-lines.

He echoes his boss in saying “the league doesn’t lie,” but feels there is still a chance to show Wednesday are better than that.

Eager to make an impact for himself and the team after his lengthy layoff, the central defender sees these last few weeks of 2017-18 as an opportunity “to finish the season on a high.”

“I’m really hurt by what’s happened,” he says, before reminding us that we can’t dwell on the past. “We’ve always got to be looking forward.”

Lees: Hey look it’s a long lost horizon

The timescale may be a short one, looking no further than the final whistle on 6th May, but the boss and his number 15 agree there are still points to be won, and points to be made.

While we’re all straining our eyes for signs of what lies beyond the horizon, Jos won’t be drawn on that today.

 

The (near) future

 

He gives a very good impression of believing that next season is further than the eyes can see, beyond anything we can predict or anticipate.

“We live now, we play now, I have these players now… [When the time is right] I will speak openly and honestly about the players where the contract is ended.”

Lees believes him.

Describing his new boss as “very fair in team selection… Very open to ideas.”

Jos: I’m proud of my strikers

The defender remarks that if players are doing well, they keep their place in the team. A difference then between old boss Carvalhal and new boss Luhukay.

And it appears one beneficiary of this approach is Atdhe Nuhiu. Who saw that coming?

Well everyone, if the phone-ins are to be believed. Blimey. Is there anyone in Sheffield who hasn’t always said that ‘Dave’ was the best player in the squad?

Nuhiu’s time at Wednesday is a neat example of what can happen if your style doesn’t suit the head coach. Stuart Gray brought in the giant Kosovan international on a free transfer back in 2013-14 and was repaid with 18 league goals in two seasons.

Enter Carlos in 2015-16 and not only did the goals dry up – just 4 in the league throughout Carvalhal’s reign – but so did the starting appearances. And now, enter Jos Luhukay.

“Atdhe knows I have a lot of respect for him,” he says.

“We like him as a player… also he is a very positive character.” The manager uses the words “Trust… respect… quality.”

And he is rewarded by Nuhiu’s transformation into a goal-scoring, assist-making match winner.

In the world of sports interviews the words ‘surreal’ and ‘amazing’ are go-to descriptions for most eventualities, even those that seem far from dream-like or mind-boggling.

Nuhiu continued his hot streak at the weekend

But on this occasion surreal and amazing accurately sum up Nuhiu’s and Wednesday’s bank holiday weekend.

Sure, the first halves of both games could best be described as unremarkable, but the second half performances created two convincing wins, with goals a-plenty, solid defending and some magical passages of play.

Who are these men and where have they been all our lives?

 

Saturday

 

You could put a damper on everything and say the individual and collective performances are too little too late.

Or you could be like Jos and Tom and set your sights on a spirit lifting few games to take us into the summer on a relative high.

Either way, if you’re looking for a reality check after the excitements of last weekend, Saturday’s visitors are pretty much tailor-made for the job.

It would indeed be both ‘surreal’ and ‘amazing’ if we get a result against Fulham.

Unbeaten in the league since mid-December, the Cottagers will – as Lees said today – provide the barometer for Wednesday’s recent improvements. “We get a chance to see where we’re at against a top team on form.”

Jos is also keenly aware of the challenge posed by Slavisa Jokanovic’s men, singling out Ryan Sessegnon as one danger in a team full of them, “One of the best players in this division,” he says, and few would disagree.

Sessegnon: danger man (football365.com)

Lees mentions his own desire to make a mark in the few games left before we pull-up at the short horizon in May.

His desire, energy, frustration and motivation seem shared by others returning from injury.

Bannan’s pin-point pass for Joao’s goal against Preston was just one example of the vision we’ve been missing on the pitch.

But it’s not only about physical prowess. Lees reflects on the loss of momentum and what he calls “the feel-good factor” too. Jos also highlights “the growing positivity in the club, the team and the fans.”

If the recent goal celebrations and post-match atmosphere are a sign of anything it’s that the good vibes are back.

We’ve done ok against top six teams under Jos, and Fulham’s unbeaten run has to end somewhere – why not S6 on an April afternoon? Hold that thought.


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

Images: SWFC, unless stated.


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