NEW manager Jos Luhukay believes stern discipline will be the key to reviving Sheffield Wednesday’s fortunes.
The 54-year-old is preparing for a tough introduction to English football with the Owls heading to Bramall Lane on Friday for the 142nd Steel City derby.
The team is not so stable right now so I think that is the base to get back to success.Initial thoughts from Jos Luhukay.
All eyes will be on Luhukay, the surprise choice of owner Dejphon Chansiri to succeed Carlos Carvalhal following the Portuguese’s exit on Christmas Eve.
It is a challenge the former Hertha Berlin and Borussia Monchengladbach head coach is relishing as he looks to breathe fresh life into what has been a desperately disappointing season at Hillsborough.
Amid what is likely to be a bear-pit atmosphere in front of the live Sky cameras at the Lane, Luhukay expects to learn plenty about the character and desire of a squad he only met for the first time a few days ago.
“The mentality is very important and I think it is also a base that you must have to be successful,” the Dutchman told The Yorkshire Post.
“Character is one of the most important things players can have. You can have a lot of quality, but if you don’t have a good mentality, it is not so easy. When you have both, it is perfect.”
Luhukay arrived in England with a wealth of experience and a coaching CV that boasts seven clubs and three promotions to the Bundesliga.
The second of those successes came in 2011 at the helm of Augsburg, who, until then, had never reached the top flight.
Promotion was secured with a game to spare and it was then that Luhukay’s renowned disciplinarian streak came to the fore after a couple of players stepped out of line in the celebrations.
“At Augsburg, two players came late to a meeting,” revealed the new Owls chief. “They were late by two minutes so I said to them, ‘You are not on time, you can sit on the bench (for the final celebration game)’.
“The players looked at me surprised, but discipline is important. When we have a meeting, you should be on time. Discipline is needed in everything you do.
“When you have no discipline in a team it is very difficult to be successful.”
Such an iron-fist approach may well be what is needed at Hillsborough to lift the club out of their current malaise.
After back-to-back appearances in the play-offs under Carvalhal and Chansiri spending tens of millions in the transfer market, Wednesday were expected to again make a strong challenge for the Premier League.
A poor 1-0 defeat at Preston North End on the opening day, however, largely set the tone for much of what followed under Carvalhal.
There have been a couple of highspots along the way, such as the 3-0 home victory over Leeds United and an impressive win at Aston Villa.
But, otherwise, the fare on offer has been poor with Wednesday’s 16th place standing in the table pretty much where their performances have merited.
United enjoying a much better season in the Championship across the city has only deepened the sense of gloom around S6 that is now Luhukay’s task to lift.
Victory at the Lane, of course, would go a long way towards doing just that, as would an extended FA Cup run now that a clear path can be seen to the fifth round.
Providing the Owls beat Carlisle United in next Tuesday’s third-round replay either fellow strugglers Reading or League Two Stevenage will await Luhukay’s men in the fourth round at Hillsborough.
With Neil Warnock, a lifelong Blade, and his Cardiff City side also due in S6 on January 20 it represents a real crash course in the peculiarities of English football for someone whose entire playing and coaching career has been in Holland and Germany.
“I have seen a lot of games in England and in the Premier League,” said Luhukay.
“I have studied also a lot of games in the Championship in the last few weeks. This team is my focus. I must focus on the players and that is my job at this moment.
“I have met the players and seen a little bit of their quality and now I will learn about the players as people. How is the mentality, how is the character and what shape they are.”
Glenn Loovens and Joost van Aken, Wednesday’s defensive Dutch duo, were the only two members of the Wednesday squad that the new manager knew before taking the job, but he has quickly set about changing that.
“It is exciting to me to get to know everyone,” he added. “That is what I will do for the next few days.
“Not only in training, but also speaking to the players so they can learn about me as I learn more about them. That is important. There must be a good relationship between me and the players.
“The message is we must work hard together for the situation that we have now. When the trust comes back a little more it can also give you more chance of getting back to your best performance.
“The team is not so stable right now so I think that is the base to get back to success.
“You must have good stability in the team. You must defend well and not give away easy goals.
“It is a hard situation at the moment, but I am delighted to help the team.”