Sheffield Wednesday v Preston North End: Xisco Munoz looking to speed up adaption as Owls look abroad for golden blend
This season has a very different feel, which partly explains why the Owls welcome Preston North End for Saturday's Championship game looking for a first win of 2023-24.
Spanish coach Xisco Munoz has brought an Italian goalkeeping coach and Portuguese physio along with backroom compatriots to Hillsborough. Unsurprisingly, his 10 signings have a Spanish flavour but also include a Chilean (Juan Delgado), a Colombian (Devis Vasquez), a Dutchman (Anthony Musaba) and two Frenchmen in Djeidi Gassama and Momo Diaby.
The more cosmopolitan approach gives the Owls access to more and often cheaper markets but inevitably will need extra time to gel.
"At the moment I'm speaking Spanish and English but my French isn't good," admits Munoz, who has previously managed in Georgia (where he also played) and Greece, as well as Spain and England.
"Now we need some of the players, like Bambo (Diaby, a Spaniard who has played in Italy and Belgium) to translate into French.
"We are spending more time close together, speaking about exactly what we want and we try in different languages and with different mentalities to correct the situation.
"It doesn't matter the country, our job is to reduce the adaptation time.
"This is how I can help Gassama, to (help him to) find a home faster and feel comfortable in the city and only think about football. This is our job in this situation."
Fortunately the British core are playing their part, no doubt helped by Josh Windass' Spanish skills.
"I am happy with the captains of our team because they told me this week they will maybe go together for lunch or something like this," says Munoz.
"I need time for the transfer window to close and after that we will see if there are any (bonding exercises) we can do but for now we try to stay together here (at the training ground) to know more about our players and they need to know more about our staff."
It is not just different languages and footballing cultures some of the new signings bring – there have still been home-grown additions like Ashley Fletcher, Reece James and English-born Jamaican international Di'Shon Bernard – but youth and a bit more dynamism too.
"One of the things that is important to me is to try and get a balance," insists Munoz. "We had a squad with senior players and we needed a balance.
"Musaba, Gassama, Pol (Valentin), Di'Shon are young guys but they are ready to play in the Championship, they have a good level. They just need a bit of patience.
"(But) the solution to our problems is not about the players we bring in, it's about the team all together.
"You can say Gassama's never played in the Championship – of course not, he's 19 years-old – but Barry (Bannan) has big experience so we try to put his experience with what we need.
"Maybe we'll find the balance in one week, maybe three weeks.
"It's our job to reduce the process and reduce the time. If we can do it in two weeks it's better but for now it's which players can play at the level against Preston, who are the players who can give a better performance?
"And after that it's down to which five players can improve things because I always try to make five changes (during the game) to give us the three points."
Bannan, Liam Palmer and George Byers are in contention to start.