SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY chairman Dejphon Chansiri insists there is no risk in appointing Jos Luhukay as manager despite his lack of previous experience in English football.
The 54-year-old Dutchman yesterday met his players for the first time after being unveiled late last week as Carlos Carvalhal’s successor.
Friday will bring the ultimate test for a manager new to the Championship as Wednesday make the short trip to Bramall Lane to take on United in what is certain to be a hard-fought Steel City derby.
Chansiri turning to Luhukay, whose entire coaching career has been in Germany, was a surprise, especially as it is understood Paul Lambert and several other managers with intimate knowledge of the ultra-competitive second tier were also on the club’s radar.
“I have talked to many people who are experts in football and they told me there is not a lot of difference,” said the Owls’ owner, when asked if appointing a manager with no first-hand experience of English football was a risk.
“Of course, if you know about English football, it may be of benefit, but I don’t see a difference. I interviewed a British coach and a foreign coach who is working in the UK. I interviewed all types of coaches. I was quite open.
“Everyone was a very good coach and this made it very difficult to make a decision. But when I met Jos, I found him a good fit for my philosophy and what we need now. I am convinced Jos has all the qualities required to take us where we all want to be.”
Asked if anything could be read into Luhukay being named as manager whereas Carvalhal’s job title was ‘head coach’, Chansiri replied: “Normally, I never called Carlos head coach. I called him manager.
“There is no difference. He (Luhukay) will do the same (job), like Carlos, and he is going to have the final say about players, but the final decision is still me. That is normal.”
Luhukay’s appointment further swells the foreign contingent of managers plying their trade in England.
His appointment has drawn inevitable comparisons with the 2015 arrival of David Wagner, whose only previous coaching experience before taking the helm of Huddersfield Town had come in Germany.
Wagner famously led the Terriers into the Premier League and the Hillsborough faithful will be hoping Luhukay, a promotion specialist with a trio of successes in Germany on his CV, can have a similar impact in S6.
For every success story from abroad such as Wagner, however, there is a list of failures with Darko Milanic lasting just 32 days at Leeds United and Leonid Slutsky being sacked by Hull City after four months.
Only time will tell on how Luhukay fares. But Chansiri, whose only previous appointment as owner led Wednesday to back-to-back appearances in the play-offs, is adamant he has got the right man.
Explaining the process that brought in Carvalhal’s successor, the Owls’ chief added: “We have advisers and are scouting all over the world. I told all the people what I wanted.
“Then we looked and then I chose who I was going to interview. I interviewed many people, who were all good. It is why it made it a difficult decision. But I think Jos has principles and discipline, which is what we need.”
The priority for the new manager is bringing stability to a club sitting 16th in the table and much closer to the relegation zone than the play-offs.
As for his target set by the club, Chansiri wants Premier League football with the Owls’ chairman refusing to rule out a late push for promotion this term.
“We have another 20 games,” said the Thai businessman. “It is quite difficult, but there are still enough points to be there if we have a little bit of luck and maybe a miracle. I believe we have a good coach. Maybe we can be there. We must think positive.”
Luhukay interview: Page 18.