SPEAK to Adam Reach and other senior figures in the Sheffield Wednesday dressing room and the message is an unambiguous one.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Well placed to accrue a decidedly healthy double-figure points return by the end of August – at the end of what he inwardly hopes will be the first of many months in charge – caretaker-boss Lee Bullen has unquestionably bought himself and the club valuable time in the decision-making process which will eventually conclude in the naming of the next permanent manager.
The Scot, whose two previous spells in interim charge – in 2017-18 and 2018-19 – both lasted four matches, will break new ground when he leads out Wednesday for a fifth successive game at Preston tomorrow.
Perhaps, the biggest tribute that can be paid to Bullen is that it genuinely seems as if he has been at the Hillsborough helm for much longer than four matches.
He is in receipt of a squad which is energised, together, focused and optimistic, aspects that all reflect well and speak volumes about his impact.
The seemingly endless eve-of-season chatter about the runners and riders for the Wednesday hot-seat following Steve Bruce’s exit to Tyneside has quietened significantly – and the focus remains very much on the present with Owls followers to converge upon Preston’s Deepdale home tomorrow in expectation.
Reach, part of an Owls side who have taken nine points from a possible 12 so far this season – with early leadership of the Championship table after Tuesday night’s action being an added psychological bonus – said: “The future decision-making does not affect us.
“But we are in a good way and that is down to him (Bullen) and the players and we have all formed a good relationship right now. Maybe that is why the decision has not been made yet as they did not want to change too much. Speaking on behalf of everyone, if it stays the same, then we are all happy.
“Of course, the league table came on the TV when we came in (on Tuesday) and it was nice to be top of the league.
“It is three wins from four games and if you keep doing that, you are going to be up there at the end of the season. Bully is going to get a lot of credit for steadying the ship, rightly so. But the players deserve a lot as well.
“We were all disappointed with the way it happened with Steve Bruce, but we have just got to move on and I think that everyone can feel there is a good energy around the camp and we are all together.
“The new lads have put everyone on their toes and brought pace and quality. I think we are heading in a really good direction.”
Leaders are dealers in hope and Bullen is currently providing that and despite presiding over resounding early-season victories over Reading and Barnsley, it was perhaps Tuesday’s hard-fought 1-0 win over Luton which was more significant in the grander scheme of things.
Wednesday overcame adversity following a poor first half to regroup and produce a second 45 minutes which was ripe in intensity as the hosts impressively found a way to win on what was looking like being a testing night.
It was an evening when the hosts’ persistence and energy levels were worthy of high praise – with the murmurs on the grapevine in previous years that Wednesday were a ‘leggy’ and ‘unfit’ side currently being emphatically answered.
The Owls, who secured the headline appointment of highly-rated sports science and fitness guru Tony Strudwick earlier in the summer, now look wholly comfortable playing a high-pressing game and with the benefit of an extra days’ recovery time than weekend opponents Preston, they will be intent on another high-velocity showing tomorrow.
Reach, a one-time North End loanee earlier in his playing career, said: “First and foremost when you play Preston, you have to match their intensity as they are always at 100 per cent and come flying out of the blocks.
“This season, we can match teams for intensity and everyone can see how fit we are. We do not tire on 60 or 70 minutes and if anything we get stronger as the games go on.”
On the rising expectation levels at S6, the north-easterner added: “When you are doing well, expectation naturally rises and you have got to deal with that.
“The fans were getting frustrated in the first half (against Luton) and we tried to keep our heads and went in at half time and said it is about us and we needed to increase our intensity and did.
“Hopefully we can show a bit more quality on Saturday. But if that does not happen, let’s not panic. We have got more than enough in the dressing room to get through scrappy games.
“Deepdale is a tough place to go, it always is. It usually is a scrappy game over there, but we will be ready for that to get the three points however way they come.”
Owls full-back Matt Penney has joined St Pauli – managed by Jos Luhukay – on a season-long loan.