WHEN asked if he agreed with the views of some Sheffield Wednesday fans that it feels like there is a “toxic” atmosphere around Hillsborough currently, it was understandable why manager Jos Luhukay initially looked a little perplexed yesterday.
His side do, after all, head into today’s game at Blackburn Rovers on the back of a victory.
Imagine what the mood would be like from the outside if that were not the case?
That said, Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers was only the first in a seven-game sequence that included five defeats and it was far from convincing.
Wednesday’s supporters need a little more persuading.
Still, the chance to resurrect their campaign presents itself at Ewood Park this afternoon when they face opponents who are in a similar predicament.
Blackburn sit 13th, three places and as many points above the South Yorkshire club, but they have won just once in their last six matches so they could easily be viewed as vulnerable.
On those “toxic” comments, Luhukay eventually said: “I don’t know. We give our best.
“The team tries to give our best. We now have a period where we hope we can change our way with success and we have help from the supporters again.
“The supporters for the period when we had 10 games and lost only two were fantastic.
It’s a period from not positive games but, yes, we must find a way for ourselves against Blackburn and we hope again on the support from our fans.Jos Luhukay
“Now we have six, seven games... and we come back in the game last Tuesday to win.
“It’s a period from not positive games but, yes, we must find a way for ourselves against Blackburn and we hope again on the support from our fans.
“But the fans always have the emotion and they have the patience and what they have we must do on the field. Then I think the atmosphere will also be good.”
Luhukay has impressed on his side the importance of playing with a positive attitude.
“Last Tuesday was two teams who’ve not had positive results and both teams were afraid to lose,” he said. “You saw it on both teams. It’s also mental and not so easy.
“The character is always there but the way you want to play is nervous and that was also from Bolton side. But the second half I think we had the game in complete control and we created three, four, five chances and made the goal. We must try to do it (Saturday) from the first minute and not be afraid to play.”
Indeed, if they do that, there is no reason why the Owls cannot secure back-to-back wins for the first time since September, a welcome fillip going into what is always a hectic month.
But Blackburn have fared well at home since earning promotion last season, losing just one of their nine outings against Sheffield United on October 3.
“We must not take them lightly,” added the manager.
“We must be very professional and get 100 per cent from the squad. They make, up to now, a good position in the league.
“They come from League One and have struggled a little bit from results in the last games but we must take Blackburn Rovers very serious. They have quality in the team especially with (Bradley) Dack the top scorer with eight (league) goals and (Danny) Graham is also a very strong central striker.
“Both players are good for 12 goals up to now so we must keep an eye on them and try again for another clean sheet while hopefully taking our own chances.”
Meanwhile, Luhukay says he has had preliminary discussions with chairman Dejphon Chansiri about plans for the January transfer window.
Given their issues with profitability and sustainability regulations, they have signed just three players since the Dutchman took over in January.
But their transfer embargo was lifted in August and there is expected to be movement both ways in the new year.
Senior players David Jones and George Boyd have not featured since August while fellow midfielder Almen Abdi has yet to play this term and all are out of contract in the summer.
“We make for our squad decisions and these players are a long time not playing,” said Luhukay.
“It looks easy but it is very difficult when you have not played for a very long time. When you have played two years maybe only a couple of games you are not 100 per cent to have the intensity to play in the Championship and these players are also not the youngest players any more.
“We make decisions for our squad and, at this time, these players are not in the last 18 players in the squad.”