SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY caretaker manager Lee Bullen is remaining coy regarding his prospects of landing the Owls position on a full-time basis – despite presiding over the club’s best start to a league season in 23 years.
Wednesday head the Championship table on goal difference after Saturday’s impressive 2-0 derby victory over visiting Barnsley, with the Owls having won their opening two league matches to a campaign for the first time since 1996-97 – when the club were in the Premier League.
Goals from debutant Jacob Murphy – just two minutes into his Hillsborough career – and Steven Fletcher earned the Owls the spoils in the county’s first high-profile derby of the season.
On his own position, Bullen, who took over on a temporary basis last month following the controversial departure of Steve Bruce to Newcastle United, said: “It is for other people at the club to make any sort of decision on that and I am sure they are relatively happy with the way things are going at the moment.
“I will come in on Monday morning and prepare a training session and try to beat Millwall next week and that is all I can do.
As a coach, you control what you can control and that is picking a team and trying to keep players fit.Interim manager Lee Bullen
“As a coach, you control what you can control and that is picking a team and trying to keep players fit.
“We have a tough, tough game down at Millwall next week and my aim is to try and put a team out that can, hopefully, win three points down there.”
On a dream debut for Murphy, handed a full debut after stepping in for the injured Barry Bannan, Bullen added: “You cannot get a better debut, can you? Scoring with his first touch, he must have thought all his Christmases had come at once.
“He could have frozen in that situation, but it just shows his quality. He and Kadeem Harris are two fantastic outlets to allow us to play like that.”
While there was delight for Bullen at Saturday’s events, Barnsley head coach Daniel Stendel admitted that his youthful side were handed a Championship lesson by Wednesday, who extended their unbeaten sequence over the Reds to 11 matches.
But the German is confident his squad will learn from events at Hillsborough and that the early lesson will prove a useful one.
Stendel, whose side welcome Carlisle United in the EFL Cup tomorrow night before hosting Charlton next Saturday, admitted: “It is a big lesson. We say in German that we pay money for every lesson and (after Saturday) we pay a lot of money.
“We hope they will learn quite quickly and I think they will. That is one advantage of such a young squad.
“After the last pre-season game against Sheffield United, we learned a lot before the Fulham game and I hope we will learn a lot from this game as well.
“I can see the gap of experience and quality from League One to Championship is very big and it is not too easy to close this gap.
“But I am sure we will in this season. We need to be confident and believe in our own way. We have three points from two games and that is a good start for us.”
Stendel added that the club will assess midfielder Alex Mowatt today after he came off with an injury in the second half, while Bullen remains hopeful that Bannan will be in the fray for the weekend trip to Millwall after missing the Barnsley game with a calf issue.
Meanwhile, Leeds United were denied a share of the early leadership of the table after a 77th-minute equaliser from Lewis Grabban in Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Nottingham Forest at Elland Road.
Huddersfield Town, who are reportedly set to sign former Hull City forward Fraizer Campbell, were also pegged back late on in a 1-1 draw at QPR, while Grant McCann’s first home match in charge of Hull ended in a morale-boosting 2-1 win over Reading.
Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate’s opening game in charge at the Riverside Stadium saw Boro succumb to a 1-0 home reverse to Brentford.