Jos Luhukay has shrugged off fears over his Sheffield Wednesday future ahead of tonight’s Steel City derby.
Four successive defeats – which have seen the Owls plummet from sixth in the Championship to just four points above the bottom three – have heaped pressure on the Owls manager heading into tonight’s Sheffield derby at Bramall Lane.
Angry fans confronted owner Dejphon Chansiri after last week’s humiliating 4-0 home loss to Norwich City, calling for Luhukay to be sacked after just 10 months in the job.
In a impassioned press conference yesterday, the 55-year-old insisted he had the “coolness” and “experience” to rescue Wednesday’s season.
“I have been in football a long time,” said the former Hertha Berlin and Borussia Mönchengladbach boss. “I’m not thinking about what happens with a good or bad result.
“I have given my best in the 10 months I have been here.
We were in sixth position. Four weeks later, I’m the same person and I’m the same coach and four times later you have a bad result and now I’m a bad person in Sheffield.Jos Luhukay
“And what I say before, four weeks ago, was I a king in Sheffield?
“We were in sixth position and stayed in a play-off position. From every side, it was positive.
“Four weeks later, I’m the same person and I’m the same coach and four times later you have a bad result and now I’m a bad person in Sheffield.
“When I have the feeling my work is not accepted or not respected... the most important thing is when the players give me the feeling that I am not the right person in this chair now, then we must make a decision.
“But I do not have that feeling. So my energy must go more into my team and to my players, and not (to respond to questions like this). I am very relaxed with that. And believe me, I have the coolness and I have the experience to try to handle this but we must do it together.
“Alone, you can not do anything. But together you can come, in another way, back. That is the successful way.
“Football is my life and you play with your heart and you feel that.”
Victory in tonight’s Steel City derby would certainly relieve the pressure on Luhukay, whose first game in charge of the Owls in January was the corresponding fixture at Bramall Lane last season. He has also experienced derbies in Germany, and knows the extra pressure which comes attached. “This is not only a game,” he said. “I have been in football long enough that I know what a derby is like to play in and what you must do in a derby.
“You play football for these games. You have two special games in the season and they are the two derbies.
“I know exactly what it means to the fans and hopefully we can give them the best feeling that we can tomorrow.
“We know how important the game is. Derby games have a lot of emotions and passion.
“I was with a blue team in Berlin. We must play against a red team in the same city and we had a home game in front of 76,000 people in a derby game and you know what sort of pressure that is.
“We picked up four points in that season. It is for the fans a very good feeling and the respect and also the players of course.”
Owls captain Tom Lees insists the players are backing Luhukay, despite their recent troubles.
He said: “We are working as hard as ever, doing everything he asks. You will see tomorrow the players will probably work harder than ever. Hopefully that will show on the pitch. That’s the only way we are going to turn it around.
“We are not going to turn it around by sulking, or people going off in their own direction.”
Venue: Bramall Lane.
Coverage: Sky Sports.
Team news: Sheffield Wednesday could include forwards Fernando Forestieri and Marco Matias after the pair returned to training after injury. But Keiren Westwood, David Jones, Gary Hooper, Kieran Lee and Sam Winnall are all sidelined due to injury. Sheffield United have no injury problems, meaning a recall for Mark Duffy.
Last six games: United WWLDWL; Wednesday DWLLLL.
Referee: A Madley (W Yorkshire).
Last time: Sheffield United 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0; January 12 2018; Championship.