JOS LUHUKAY will have had no express desire to take centre stage in a Sheffield Wednesday-themed version of the Darkest Hour last night.
On the day when the wartime story of how Winston Churchill grappled with Britain’s survival in that tumultuous month of May 1940 hit UK screens, the new Owls head coach was more preoccupied with arresting his new club’s Championship descent at the home of their bitter enemy.
As first impressions go, the quietly-spoken Luhukay does not look the sort to inspire his charges Churchillian-style.
But while last night’s result may not have been cause to deliver a V for victory, this was a minor triumph all the same as the Owls avoided the ignominy of a second derby defeat in a season.
It was Luhukay’s greenhorn status in his first managerial foray in English football that was the big pre-match concern for nervy Wednesdayites.
Luhukay may have dipped his toes into the derby waters with Borussia Monchengladbach and Hertha Berlin in a 20-year coaching career, but this was different gravy entirely – or Henderson’s Relish, if you prefer, amid a febrile bearpit of a Steel City clash. While home fans sang about Chris Wilder being ‘one of their own’, Luhukay was rather more exposed.
After just four days of ingratiating himself with his charges on the training ground – albeit with double sessions on the menu – the 54-year-old was thrown bang in the deep end on an occasion that his counterpart succinctly labelled as “more than just a game”.
In terms of his managerial style, Luhukay had spoken of being big on discipline and that was evident in his side’s technically well-drilled performance and their adherence to the game plan, even when going down to ten men for the last 25 minutes.
Luhukay’s reaction to the adversity was calm and unflustered as was his team’s.
Luhukay had spoken of being big on discipline and that was evident in his side’s technically well-drilled performance and their adherence to the game planLeon Wobschall
Greeted by some hearty boos from home supporters as they were warming up, Wednesday players got the treatment ahead of kick-off and Luhukay, in understated fashion, slipped quietly into the technical area despite the noise decibels being cranked up. It was a metaphor for his side’s quietly-efficient away display.
The smart money was on a welcome to the Championship message being emphatically delivered by the Blades in a riproaring opening. The hosts certainly pressed, but the Owls composed themselves, with every early step watched by Luhukay, who unassumingly patrolled his technical area.
The sight of a largely uneventful opening half was a pleasing enough development in itself for the newcomer, with Wednesday’s disciplined shape hinting at some diligent work on the training ground.
A touch of the energy generated by Unitedites gradually started to ebb as the half progressed and that was a welcome enough development for the visitors.
The second half was more open, but the sight of Wednesday supporters in decent voice heralding a deserved point at the end constituted a good first night for Luhukay.