Former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder David Jones has revealed how former boss Jos Luhukay caused a divide within the Owls dressing room after he banished several senior players from the squad.
Lukuhay came into the fold at Hillsborough in January 2018, replacing Carlos Carvalhal as manager and he kept the Owls in and around the lower mid-table range for the rest of the season.
Things started to fall apart for the Dutchman the following season though, and was sacked in December less than a year after taking over, leaving the club in 17th position in the Championship.
One thing that wouldn’t have helped Luhukay is the freezing out of several senior players, including Jones himself and notably Sam Hutchinson and Keiren Westwood, who remain at the Owls to this day.
Jones was informed at the end of the 2017/18 season that the club would not stand in his way if he wanted to leave, with Luhukay wanting to use younger players, but after a ‘normal’ pre-season, he and some of his team-mates were sent to train with the development squad.
Jones said, per The Examiner: “He (Luhukay) said was ‘you’re a great professional, I like you around the players and you train great every day but we want to go down a younger path. If any offers come in for you and you want to take the opportunity, I won’t stand in your way. You can stay but you may not feature as much as you have in previous seasons’.
“Initially, in the pre-season, it was normal. I wasn’t really featuring in the games, as the games got more serious I noticed I was getting five, ten minutes, young players were getting on ahead of me.
“I wanted to stay and fight for my place but it was an impossible situation, I wanted to play as much football as I could. When the games started, I was training with the 23s.
“I’ve never ever seen a good atmosphere when you have people training at different times and on different schedules. Players not involved with the first-team, lads that you were training with every day last season, there’s now a divide.
“I can’t fathom it or put my fingers on why it changes the atmosphere significantly but it does. I haven’t been involved in it before but I’ve seen it before and it fragments the squad.”
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Jones has since retired from football after leaving the Owls in 2019, having a brief spell at Oldham last season before going into youth coaching with former club Burnley recently, but a few of the players that were banished alongside him remain in S6.
Those being Hutchinson and Westwood – the former though left for Cyprus for a few months in 2020 before returning – and that pair were also not selected for a long while by Garry Monk, which suggested that there may be a theme going on between that pair and Wednesday managers.
Jones though doesn’t believe there was any fall-out between the pair and Luhukay though, although he couldn’t comment on what happened with Monk.
“Although they’re big characters and they’re a voice in the dressing room, it was a strange one, to not utilise people of that experience and quality,” Jones said.
“It never worked from my perspective, it’s strange it happened again. I can’t comment too much in recent months but it was a strange one.
“There was no significant bust-up that led to it. You’d think as a manager you’d want to maximise the potential of the players.”
Dressing room problems are never a good thing and it seems as though Wednesday have had a whole host of them in years gone by.
It happened with Luhukay, it happened with Monk but after what happened against Cardiff on Monday, the spirit now looks to be good and harmonious, with a clear mindset focused on Championship survival.
As for Luhukay, a lot of Wednesday fans were never really happy with him as manager and he couldn’t ever make the Owls a decent team – it now feels a heck of a long time since he was in charge.