You're going to regret that post.....
Who follows the trail to the source of football, comes out in Sheffield. The game will still be experienced with more passion in few other places in the world. Especially during the Steel City Derby. VI tested the eardrums during the 130th edition, with the Dutch Joey Pelupessy and Jos Luhukay.
It is Wednesday night, two days before the big city derby, and on Radio Sheffield a panel of journalists and supporters is looking for answers to that one question for a few minutes: who should become the new manager of Sheffield Wednesday? The insiders know that Mick McCarthy, Nigel Pearson and Gary Megson are all candidates, but they do not agree on which of them is the most appropriate. The listeners of the Football Heaven talk show are also enthusiastically involved. Most of them in a tone that suggests that the situation in Syria is the subject of conversation, not that in the dug-out of Sheffield Wednesday. In fact, there is still a manager there. A negligible detail for program makers and callers. The Owls were standing less than a month ago, after a series with eighteen points from nine games, sixth in the Championship.
Jos Luhukay received praise from all sides. The 55-year-old Dutchman was seduced by the fans, in the newspapers praised as the architect behind the resurrection. Four consecutive defeats later, the mood has turned somewhat. "I just can not understand that this manager is still there," says caller Steve from Rotherham, audibly close to despair. 'I've been going to Wednesday since 1966, but as bad as I have never experienced it before. The defense is a disaster, the players no longer have confidence, the game does not look good. ' In the studio, grumbling and groaning is done. 'Releasing a whole team is impossible', the presenter knows. Mark from Halifax does not ignore it: "Even if we win the derby on Friday, which does not happen, then this manager has to leave. Steve Bruce has to come. He knows how to promote. "
The weekend before, after the 0-4 defeat against Norwich City, angry fans flew together for the main entrance to Hillsborough Stadium. They reacted to club owner Dejphon Chansiri. The Thai businessman, rich in canned tuna, tried to temper the discontent by saying that he was also dissatisfied with the results. Grains on the mill of the murmuring mob. "Throw him out then!" Four days later Luhukay is still a manager of Wednesday. The media agree that the derby will determine its future.
Sheffield Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay gives directions.
Sheffield Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay gives directions.
It gives an extra tingle to a conflict that is already so charged. The Steel City Derby, the fight for the honor in the cradle of football. What Rome is for archaeologists is Sheffield for football historians. The fourth city of England is home to the oldest football club in the world (Sheffield FC, from 1857) and the oldest stadium (Sandygate Road of Hallam FC, built in 1804). And so one of the oldest and most heated derbies. Wednesday vs. United, the blues against the grub, The Owls against The Knives . For each other, both supporter groups use the same nickname: Pigs. Less than five kilometers is between the two clubs. An outsider can not immediately discover essential differences. Ask someone from Sheffield and it seems that both clubs play in a different star set. You are Wednesday or you are United, a middle way is not possible. You love one and you hate the other. Wednesday, from 1867, is the oldest of the two and according to the blue supporters the real club of the city. United, founded 22 years later, likes to profile itself as the club of the people. Wednesday is a bit more posh and can show off a better stocked cupboard: four country titles and three FA Cups, versus one title and four FA Cups. Prices that were all achieved before the Second World War. At the introduction of the Premier League, Sheffield was still represented with two clubs. In the 26 years that followed, both Wednesday and United dropped to the third level, where Hillsborough and Bramall Lane also just flooded. The two tradition associations are longing for a return on the highest stage. United is a serious contender for promotion.
The newspapers flock this week en masse to Chris Wilder, United's colorful success trainer. An old player with a club tattoo and a beer belly, about whom the finest anecdotes do the rounds. For example about the time, after a lost away match against Millwall, that he suddenly stopped the bus of The Blades . Wilder got out, walked into a liquor store and bought beer for his players - and himself. His texts also do well with the supporters. "Imagine sitting on the Titanic with a Blade and an Owl , and there is still one spot left on the lifeboat. Well, then I really drag that Blade with me! '
Wednesday vs. United, The Owls against The Knives. For each other, both supporter groups use the same nickname: Pigs
His colleague at Hillsborough is an opposite. Modest, subdued. Jos Luhukay is not a man of publicity. When things went well with Sheffield Wednesday, he thanked for an interview. "I do not have to be in the foreground." Just now that it is less with his team, Luhukay has gone over. And, as it always went in Germany: once the Limburger agrees to an interview, he is exceptionally helpful and hospitable. He arranged a card for the derby, on one of the best spots in the stadium. VI is also welcome at the final training. Not a matter of course in England. The security guard at the entrance to the training complex can not even believe it. 'Look? To the training? " There are some telephone calls over, but then he points the way anyway. Further on, behind the scenes and the fences, there it is. A Dutch voice suddenly sounds in the clubhouse. That of Hans Schrijver, since the beginning of this year as scout employed at Wednesday. He adds another tip: "They are not used to the public during the training. You are there, but you are not there either. " An attempt as a secret agent inconspicuously standing among the bushes, does not work out. A few players immediately alert the staff to the intruder. Assistant coach Remy Reijnierse, in the eighties teammate of Luhukay at VVV, makes a smiling report. "They are terrified that you are spying for Sheffield United. Do not pass on anything, do you? " but you are not there either. " An attempt as a secret agent inconspicuously standing among the bushes, does not work out. A few players immediately alert the staff to the intruder. Assistant coach Remy Reijnierse, in the eighties teammate of Luhukay at VVV, makes a smiling report. "They are terrified that you are spying for Sheffield United. Do not pass on anything, do you? " but you are not there either. " An attempt as a secret agent inconspicuously standing among the bushes, does not work out. A few players immediately alert the staff to the intruder. Assistant coach Remy Reijnierse, in the eighties teammate of Luhukay at VVV, makes a smiling report. "They are terrified that you are spying for Sheffield United. Do not pass on anything, do you? "
'After last year's derby, I did not dare to show myself in the city for four days'
Furthermore, the atmosphere is remarkably relaxed. Players play with each other, trying to shoot a ball through an open window. Someone peels a banana during a party game. Everything is smilingly watched by the little man in the middle. Luhukay realizes that it does not make sense to pressurize players who are not overflowing with confidence, so let him do it. Only during the eleven-to-eleven, where it is clear that Wednesday will take place with three center-defenders tomorrow, he is compelling. A whistle will sound every few seconds, followed by a soft but clear voice. 'Sharper, boys, more energy. Let them run. " And: 'Keep it simple tomorrow. It does not have to be nice. "
After the training and lunch the players leave home, except for the two Dutchmen: Joey Pelupessy (25) and Joost van Aken (24). They are still in animated conversation with their trainer. It's about derbies. Van Aken tells about the times that he shot it against SC Cambuur with SC Heerenveen and tasted the hatred in Leeuwarden. Pelupessy, ex-player of FC Twente and Heracles Almelo, tells about Twente quarrels. "The run-up to those derbies was very different from here," says the midfielder. "The day before the game, thousands of fans were on the field, with fireworks and everything. Once at Heracles we had to stop training because from all corners of the stadium suddenly red smoke bombs were thrown to the field. A joke from the Twente fans. I always got a kick out of things like that. Compared to this, it is very quiet here. '
Van Aachen laughs. "Wait," the defender says. "You're going to experience something tomorrow." In contrast to Pelupessy, he already made a Steel City Derby. A year ago Van Aken was a basic player at Hillsborough. It was the most intense race he experienced, but he never wants to see the images again. Wednesday was soon behind with 0-2. The home team battled back and came alongside halfway through the second half via Lucas João. But while the audience was euphorically up and down, Mark Duffy turned Van Aken mad and he hit the 2-3 against the ropes. Fragments of the acutely hopped bounces of joy in the stands became a hit among United fans. The derby, ending in 2-4, went down in history as the Bouncing Day Massacre. 'I did not dare to show myself in the city for four days', sighs Van Aken, who is already struggling with injuries for the entire calendar year and for whom tomorrow's game is too early.
Joey Pelupessy of Sheffield Wednesday overtakes John Fleck (Sheffield United) during the derby that will end without a goal.
Joey Pelupessy of Sheffield Wednesday overtakes John Fleck (Sheffield United) during the derby that will end without a goal.
Luhukay leans forward. 'I have tried to explain to these journalists this morning that I also experienced some matches in Germany. Gladbach against Köln, experienced from both sides. Man, that goes on. And what about the derby of Berlin? With Hertha against Union. A day before, the balaclavas were screaming in front of my nose. And nearly eighty thousand men in the stands, do not you? But yes, people do not say anything here. For them there is only one game: the derby of Sheffield. And that is beautiful too, you know me. "
He has one blow to Sheffield behind his name. It was even the first game after his arrival in January. The nets remained untouched on Bramall Lane. 'A passion, a commitment; not normal. And a noise! It was a struggle for ninety minutes. But I have not seen football. Before the game we got stuck between the United supporters. The police have had to relieve us. We were met at the stadium. That was a shouting and screaming ... "He looks at the almost as small Pelupessy from head to toe. Merry: 'You will not be gone there tomorrow, either.'
Fortunately, the midfielder is not scared. He is eagerly awaiting his first derby in England. 'I am very curious. It's so deep with the people here. " With great eyes: "Our material man just said that after that 2-4 of last year he did not speak to anyone for a week. Not even with his best friends! " A year ago Pelupessy, captain of Heracles, thought the time was right for a step higher. FC Utrecht had him in sight, New York City FC too. Those clubs did not come out with the Almeloans. And then Luhukay reported suddenly, on behalf of Sheffield Wednesday. 'To be honest, I did not know much about the club, but I really wanted to play football in England. That's why I soon realized that I wanted to take this opportunity. And from the first moment I look my eyes out. The beautiful stadiums, the full stands. At every home game the atmosphere of De Kuip hangs. Great fields everywhere. " It must have been getting used to, for the refined synthetic turf footballer. "I never had problems with it, though. But of course I have a preference for natural grass. ' Pelupessy sometimes looks at Eredivisie football on his iPad. "And then those other guests are laughing over my shoulder. "What is that nonsense?" They mean artificial grass. Last season it snowed so hard that our training was moved to an indoor hall. Then a few people in their thirties did not participate. They just kept on playing artificial grass. " But of course I have a preference for natural grass. ' Pelupessy sometimes looks at Eredivisie football on his iPad. "And then those other guests are laughing over my shoulder. "What is that nonsense?" They mean artificial grass. Last season it snowed so hard that our training was moved to an indoor hall. Then a few people in their thirties did not participate. They just kept on playing artificial grass. " But of course I have a preference for natural grass. ' Pelupessy sometimes looks at Eredivisie football on his iPad. "And then those other guests are laughing over my shoulder. "What is that nonsense?" They mean artificial grass. Last season it snowed so hard that our training was moved to an indoor hall. Then a few people in their thirties did not participate. They just kept on playing artificial grass. "
Pelupessy was amazed. About the eating habits in England for example. 'I saw the players in the morning to follow their plates with bacon, sausage, beans and egg. And then they made such a soup. I could not stand it, did not smell it; terrible! The trainer has also changed that. Now fruit and curds are ready when we come to the club. Did the English have to get used to it, but I can not hear them complaining about it anymore. '
These are the anecdotes he hoped to collect when he packed his suitcase in January. England had to be an enrichment. "And that's it, as a person and as a footballer." Pelupessy is a fixed value from the beginning, although the transition from Premier League to Championship required a lot from him. 'The pace here is so incredibly high. And many teams, especially at the bottom, are still playing real soccer with long balls. Here, as a controlling midfielder, I have to be on my toes continuously, anticipating the next game. If I lose that, then that ball is in it. That happened to me a few times in the beginning. I started thinking and acting much faster this year. ' Grinning: "I debuted for the cup against Reading. I could hardly walk the next day. I had never experienced that before. Welcome to EnglandI thought, when I had dragged myself out of bed with a lot of effort. I am now quite used to all that violence. But it still happens that after eighty minutes I watch the stadium clock and think: Pfff, do we have to go for ten minutes? '
Sometimes he asks himself where Heracles would end in the Championship. 'If I'm honest, that would not work at all. If you can play football in the Netherlands, you are already quite a long way. Here is really too little. Remy Reijnierse only asked me the opposite. Where I thought we would end up in the Eredivisie. Top five, I said. And I really mean that. We can play football well, and deliver a battle. ' But the last few weeks it all works very little. Pelupessy feels the pressure is increasing. "I'm not crazy, I know what's going on. A few weeks ago the people here fantasized about the Premier League, now everyone talks about relegation. Everything is so close together. Because of unnecessary mistakes, we got into trouble, I hope the trainer will not be the victim. I have a very good relationship with him, also as a human being. The other boys are also positive about him. But the Championship is a graveyard for trainers. Hopefully we will get a good result tomorrow and the weather will be a bit quieter. '
'I am now quite used to all that violence, but it happens that after eighty minutes I watch the stadium clock and think: Pfff, do we have to go for ten minutes?'
There is the heavy-duty trainer again, back from staff meetings. 'Come', he says, 'we'll have a drink in the city.' Luhukay goes first to his car. Where many of his players in variants ride on the A-Team bus, he settles for a Golf. "This one is driving too. I want to get these guys to think a bit too. ' That succeeds, he discovered when striker Lucas João last stood beside him at the traffic light. "He was in such a high machine and opened his window. I thought he wanted to tell me something and did the same. He pointed to my car and looked at me with a shake. Like: Trainer, that really can not. Ah, I do not need a car to express who or what I am. "
That Luhukay is now under full pressure can not be noticed. He walks quietly across the street and just moves into a popular coffee bar. He is not a striking man, that helps. "But then still: I do not have anything to hide? I am responsible for the results, but do not feel guilty. Am still the same trainer as before. If you win, not everything is super; if you lose, not everything is bad. It seems that there is nothing between these two extremes in football, but I can put things into perspective. I have been walking too long to become nervous. I do my best every day and still have a very good feeling with this group. I do not have to doubt a second for the effort of my players. If that were the case, I would not have been here. "
The Limburger is more or less a victim of his own success. In Germany he made his name as a promotion expert, and he was also launched in England. The fact that he was training Sheffield Wednesday in the first half of his life in the basement and leading to the middle of the year fueled the expectations for the new season. The good competition start as well. But now it appears Jos the Bossso also just a trainer of meat and blood. 'It is unfortunate that things are going less now, but I am not surprised.' In the summer, he was surprised by the announcement that the club could not make any investments with a view to the European Financial Fair Play rules. Luhukay, drily: "I did not see it coming. Other clubs gained forty, fifty million reinforcements. We have bought one player this year: Joey, for a modest amount. I am not a type that is going to complain, I am used to working with problems. At Hertha we had 45 million euros debt. Then you can not ask for five new players. But we became champions, with a record number of points for the Second Bundesliga. '
He says it blushing, almost ashamed. 'Our team really needed rejuvenation last summer, but in the transfer market we could only hire some players. We decided to get eight boys from the youth academy. Of them there are four in the base tomorrow. I think that is wonderful. Those players might never have had the chance. But you do not have stability with a young team. ' Luhukay is convinced that defender Matt Penney and goalkeeper Cameron Dawson, among other things, will give his employer a lot of money over time. As he is also certain that the improved facilities this year will help the club further. After his appointment, Luhukay found no fewer than sixteen injured players. He introduced new medical measuring equipment and extensive video analyzes. Meanwhile, Wednesday is showing signs of a modern football club. "I am not a trainer who leaves a mess." The question is to what extent he can still reap the fruits of his development work. 'Time no longer exists in football, especially in this competition. Many clubs are run by owners from far and wide. They want to perform immediately. 24 out of the 24 clubs want to, or have to, promote between ten or fifteen. Our owner wants that too. I think that is not possible yet, but everyone's opinion. We do what we can and I have not yet received any indication that the club wants to get rid of me. ' 24 out of the 24 clubs want to, or have to, promote between ten or fifteen. Our owner wants that too. I think that is not possible yet, but everyone's opinion. We do what we can and I have not yet received any indication that the club wants to get rid of me. ' 24 out of the 24 clubs want to, or have to, promote between ten or fifteen. Our owner wants that too. I think that is not possible yet, but everyone's opinion. We do what we can and I have not yet received any indication that the club wants to get rid of me. '
He waves to the waitress. 'Can I still have a cappuccino?'A moment later he comes with a confession. 'The chances are that this is my last job as a trainer.' He scares himself for a moment. Dan: 'With a lot of admiration, I look at wee pipe Advocaat, whom I had experienced as an SVV player thirty years ago. Even then he was so enthusiastic and possessed. He was a source of inspiration for me. Great to see him go to FC Utrecht again. But I do not see myself on the side of my seventies anymore, oh no. After my departure from VfB Stuttgart, two years ago, I actually wanted to quit. All kinds of things passed by, but I thought it was beautiful. When I was fifteen I signed my first contract with VVV, I've been in football for so long. It is time for other things. Traveling, family, enjoying life with my wife. Now I am still healthy,
"I want to give these guys something, for when I'm gone. Whether that is tomorrow, in a year or in three years'
And then Sheffield Wednesday suddenly came on his path, to his own surprise. 'If this club had not come, I might have already stopped. I had never thought about the Championship, never even seen a match in England. But I still wanted to take the opportunity to experience another football culture. I am glad that I have been able to experience this. The atmosphere in England is beautiful. The passion of the supporters ... Sheffield is not a rich city, the people are not broad, but we are supported by thousands of fans at every game. The match setting of the players is also unprecedented. I do not have to say anything before the kickoff. The boys do well together. At the same time, on the field, they take too little responsibility in my eyes. English players take everythingthe gaffer says. I think they can think more about football themselves and have to solve things on the field. We are working on that. I want to give these guys something, for when I'm gone. Whether that's tomorrow, in a year or in three years. ' But the chance is present that tomorrow's Steel City Derby will be his last race? 'That could be. But I do not think about that yet. "
The next morning his portrait is prominent in the Yorkshire Post . "Four weeks ago I would be the king," Luhukay asks in the newspaper. "And now I am suddenly the bogey man?" He does not have to expect any support from his colleague Wilder. Asked about the situation of Luhukay, the coach of United says: 'In football there is no room for sentiment. Certainly not between Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday. '
On this typical English autumn day, in which the morning twilight changes in a direct way into the evening twilight, the center of Sheffield is teeming with the officers from an early age. They are posted for the pubs, which can be divided into two types in the afternoon: red and blue. Bramall Lane is a ten minute walk from the heart of the city. It is a walk through a kind of war zone, but with cheerful singing from all sides. On the way, sellers do good business with scarves that keep the memory alive at the Bouncing Day Massacre. The monumental Bramall Lane, from 1855, is exposed to rain and wind gusts. Inside, in the ereloge, it is full of prominent people. There are businessmen, politicians, soap actors and Premier League stars like Kyle Walker and Mark Noble. At the bar, international Harry Maguire poured a bottle of beer into his square head. The stands are full. The tension rises, the stadium sizzles. Before the kick-off there is another commemoration for the soldiers who fell for freedom. A trumpet player plays The Last Postthe silence is perfect. And then: an incredible noise. A jet fighter in the living room, something like that. The speaker announces that the whole world is watching. "This is the race that divides the city, divides streets, divides families. This is ... the Steel City Derby! ' A whistle sounds and the spectacle breaks loose. The pace is breathtaking, players fly over and over again. United storms, Wednesday creaks. Pelupessy toils and shovels. In the Netherlands he had already had two yellows before the break, here he remains cardless.
The impressive minute of silence in memory ofthe fallen in the First World War and the other soldiers who fell in the battle for freedom.
The impressive minute of silence in memory of the fallen in the First World War and the othersoldiers who fell in the battle for freedom.
The home crowd sings about Chris Wilder in one piece, 'He is one of our own'. The manager keeps waving and raising his thumbs, kisses the logo on his tracksuit. Beside him Luhukay is the resting point in the middle of the hurricane. He continues to observe calmly, even though his players are completely overrun. A penalty seems an early breakpoint. But the young keeper Dawson, who had been taunted by his own fans a week earlier, and then openly defended by Luhukay, is a good match. United does not come to real big opportunities after that. Wednesday is slowly but surely putting things right, even with concrete football. Pelupessy gasps, teammates too. If United heads a ball in the last second of the injury time, Luhukay knows: his second derby also ends without goals. 'I have never experienced such intensity and such a noise', Pelupessy says later, broken. 'I've enjoyed it.'
'I have never experienced such intensity and such a noise'
The next day, at Robin Hood Airport, very happy Wednesday fans fall in love with Luhukay. An airport employee gives him a napkin shivering. 'May I have your signature? Thanks for yesterday. " The reaction from the club management was limited to a message from the CEO: 'Congratulations on the point.' But Luhukay expects that after the international break, he may continue in Sheffield. 'How we fought yesterday is a huge boost.'
Two hours later he says goodbye at Schiphol. With a sports bag over his shoulder, the man who was still coaching in a boiling arena yesterday, quietly walks towards his train. Luhukay goes to Venlo, to the family he has to miss again from Wednesday. Just a second.