Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Massimo Luongo has endured a somewhat frustrating start to the season, having joined the Owls from Queens Park Rangers during the summer transfer window.
Luongo started the season amongst the substitutes bench, with the likes of Sam Hutchinson, Kieran Lee and Barry Bannan all starting the campaign as Wednesday’s first choice in midfield.
However, Luongo has at least been able to show promising signs in his five appearances from the Owls’ bench, with the 27-year-old adding some extra ability to retain possession and an extra player breaking forward into the box.
The Australia international made his Sheffield Wednesday league debut from the bench in a 2-0 win against Barnsley, and Luongo has since been a reliable performer when brought onto to the field.
Luongo, though, would have perhaps been concerned to have only made one appearance from the bench, in Wednesday’s 4-1 win at Middlesbrough, in Monk’s first four Championship games as Sheffield Wednesday manager.
The midfielder though was handed a start on Saturday and managed to put in an impressive performance, scoring the crucial goal in Wednesday’s 1-0 win against Wigan Athletic at Hillsborough.
That performance and goal highlighted the potential for Luongo to become a key part of Wednesday’s side for the rest of the season. Here we take a look at these reasons he can eventually become a hit at Hillsborough…
Ability to provide extra attacking threat
Sheffield Wednesday have started the season in reasonable form in front of goal, with the Owls scoring freely so far this campaign, although striker Steven Fletcher has scored five of those goals.
Monk’s side have arguably lacked a player who can arrive late into the box from midfield and provide an extra threat to opposing defences, something which Lunogo’s goal against Wigan highlighted his potential to provide on a consistent basis this term.
Considering the way that Monk has lined up so far, with just a lone striker, it is even more important that midfielders can contribute to the attacking third when Wednesday are in possession and manage to prevent the forward from becoming too isolated, something which Luongo will add as the season progresses.
Add extra quality in possession
Luongo is a player who is capable of providing quality in possession, with the 27-year-old offering Monk’s side the option to retain possession and build through the thirds, rather than look to go direct up Steven Fletcher or their other forward players.
That is important to Wednesday with Monk wanting his side to be able to play on the counter-attack and absorb spells of opposition pressure, before catching them when they have left themselves open at the back, and Luongo is the sort of player who is comfortable receiving the ball under pressure and still able to find the right pass to create a counter-attack.
Whilst Bannan is also useful in possession, he is perhaps more of an instinctive player than Luongo, who has the ability to bring calmness to Wednesday’s play when they are in need of relieving pressure for a few minutes and keeping the ball.
Something to prove
Luongo arrived at Hillsborough in the summer looking to prove his worth at Championship level, having been allowed to leave Queens Park Rangers following the end of last season, where he alongside most of the rest of his team-mates struggled during the second half of the campaign last term as the Rs slipped down the table towards the relegation places.
Monk’s side could well benefit from having the 27-year-old playing and training with a desire and a hunger to get back to his best and demonstrate he belongs at Championship level, which his performances so far have certainly shown.
The Australian now needs to start showing that he can find some consistency in his performance and realise his potential, and having scored in his first league start against Wigan he will be full of confidence to go on a good run of individual form in the coming weeks.