Luhukay out – all good now?

The FCSP and Jos Luhukay will split paths after this season. Although foreseeable, it does not elicit pure joy. Neither on the one nor the other side. Because the core problem remains and will not simply be solved with nominating a new manger.
(Cover picture by 
Peter Boehmer)

What has become more and more clear during the last couple of weeks was semi-officially announced yesterday evening: Jos Luhukay will not fulfil his contract running until 2021. After the final of the season next Sunday, that’s it. It hasn’t been announced officially yet but that the kicker is choosing such wording and not being right is rather unlikely. And that is happening although there were news two days earlier which announced Luhukay will be staying for longer than this season only.
However, it was clear anyway that there would be an intensive analysis after the season’s ending regardless of being relegated or not. And it was already more than obvious that the FCSP would no longer walk its path with Jos Luhukay as manager.

Thus, the FCSP is drawing a line under a relationship which can be named as unlucky. It began in April of last year with completely different terms, with formulated goals which we wouldn’t take into our mouths even cautiously any longer (or is anyone really thinking to get promoted in 20/21). (Note of Maik: Of course! And we’ll win the DFB-cup, too! #JustPositiveFromNowOn) 
And it also began at the start of the season 19/20 with a press conference, which did already show that Jos Luhukay wasn’t willing to adapt to the found conditions. It shouldn’t be the only occasion where the media couldn’t find anything worth reporting after Jos Luhukay speaking in public.

The first leg of the season was difficult due to plenty of injured players and probably also due to the frequently raised criticism of players by Luhukay. Nevertheless, the FCSP was showing much more on the pitch than deductible from the position in the table: There was a basic idea of how to play offensive football. And I personally (I have no idea how often I already wrote these words) was honestly impressed that plenty of our opponents were simply brilliantly analysed before the match and were responded tactically to by us. I was nothing less than elated by the professional expertise of the manager.
But a lot changed in the second leg of the season. While before the Corona-break there were at least point-wise some good things to see, the break appeared not being good for the team. From a playing-analysing perspective, the Corona-break marked a clear cut, the FCSP from the first leg of the season was no longer existing. The opposite was true: the opponents now themselves seemed to be well prepared for the FCSP. There probably wouldn’t be much opposition if I name the wins against Aue and Nuremberg as lucky. And in the same way, as the advantage on the pitch disappeared, the before rather in the background existing critic against Luhukay’s management style increased. Many had their problems with Luhukay rasing clear criticism against players in public on and on. The absolute climax of misunderstandings between the manager and his players could be witnessed by everyone during the half-time break against Aue when Jos heavily argued with Henk Veerman while still on the pitch blaming Henk for not shooting the penalty instead of  Diamamtakos who then failed. However, the credibility factor of this story did suffer enormously as Henk did trigger a Stare-Down contest towards the manager’s bench straight after he scored his goal. Apparently, he won that one.

(c) Peter Boehmer

This too added to the existing critique towards the manager. And the voices of those in responsibility who had earlier clearly backed Jos  Luhukay during his difficult time in the late autumn of 2019 decreased more and more. And this is always quite a sign for increasing doubts about the manager. Thus, certainly, nobody will now announce the exchange on the manager’s bench as a surprise.
What followed was an epiphany with regard to the play during the match against Hannover. This was only topped by the fact that Jos really stated during the press conference that the media should rather focus and blame the players and not as usual the manager. However, while I somehow can relate to this opinion I also had to release my anger about this behaviour in another blog post. Just two days later, another press conference triggered some more media attention: In a very emotional statement, Jos Luhukay stated that he indeed allows critique about his person (“I am my biggest critic!“). A statement which is in the light of the entire season at least questionable. But the press conference did clearly show that Jos Luhukay was well aware of his own situation at the club. However, he also tried to pull things under a different light.

Jos Luhukay did start with clear goals: He wanted (and was supposed to) clean up the team. He was supposed to delete the sluggishness of the team, to make the players able to get the maximal performance out of themselves, of course always a bit more than actually asked by the manager. This accusation towards the squad wasn’t new. It was already clearly raised by Kauczinski and even Ewald Lienen was frequently bothered about his team in this regard.
And what is usually done if option A (Kauczinski) does not work? You try option B. Jos Luhukay was not known during his previous jobs as being a good mate of the players. If I have to use only one single word to describe his personality, it would probably be “Grouch“. But this would also not sufficiently describe him because I have also witnessed Jos  Luhukay as a person driven from the outside, bothered by his own vanity and as a perfectionist who subordinates everything for success. And as someone who doesn’t bother very much how he is considered with his way by others. But now the last point became a huge problem.

Jos Luhukay did not fail because his team did not improve football-wise. Quite the contrary, Jos did clearly improve some of the players and the whole team play-wise (even though the according results were lacking).  Jos Luhukay did fail on a human level. And this pretty heavily. I already wrote last week that it has to stop that a manager of the FCSP is constantly blaming his players in public. We can put it upside down: it simply doesn’t match the values of our club. And so it is – and I am quite angry about that – unimportant that Jos was right most of the time when he criticised the squad. But while he was aiming for another mentality in the locker-room, he might have lost it. 

So, Jos Luhukay won’t be the one at the side-line for the FCSP. But the majority of the squad will still be contracted by us. And this is, as already frequently mentioned, an issue. While the squad has, without doubt, some brilliant potential on some positions, it appears as if the players do not reach or only sometimes reach their maximal performance capacity. And this is not due to Jos Luhukay or a bad management style. At least it did not happen because of his bad management style. No, it’s an issue about which previous managers were also struggling. It’s because of the players themselves. Thus, it’s of course more than a pity that the players now get some sort of alibi although they showed so many of weak performances only. 

Jos Luhukay was fetched to the Millerntor to solve the problems of the squad. He clearly addressed this issue throughout the entire season but got part of the problem more and more. And with getting sacked the problems won’t be solved. What remains is a more than full squad which is apparently lacking the necessary motivation for success. The next manager will face this problem, too. Because without decluttering the current squad there won’t be very much new players. And the winter-break did clearly show that there are some players who, despite having no perspective with the FCSP, are reluctant to leave the club which might be due to the fact that their contracts are highly renumerated. You can’t blame them for that. Quite a challenge for sportive director Andreas Bornemann. Because what’s needed at the FCSP is a complete U-turn of mentality. This is a challenge for other teams as well (Hello hsv!). On the other hand, many teams simply perform well because of a great mentality within the squad. (Hello Heidenheim!). You have to get rid of the wrong mentality first. This won’t be possible simply by exchanging the manager.

I certainly won’t join in to speculate about who’s to follow Jos Luhukay. But the name of a current U19-manager is pretty familiar. Viewed from the outside, there’s not much you can say against Timo Schultz. And we can also be certain that the ones in charge know him pretty well. But it would, of course, be pretty unprofessional when the club won’t take a look at other options as well. The list of managers who are currently not contracted (or will at least no longer be contracted) by a club is long. Examples? Schwarz, Meyer, Grammozis, Zorniger. Certainly, there will be names of those managers dropped who have a successful track record with other clubs (Thioune, Baumgart, also spying into the third division is worth a look). But it doesn’t matter who will be the new manager, as long as the sluggishness will remain we won’t improve sports-wise.

What remains is a crappy feeling. The unfortunately perfect match for a disappointing season. The team doesn’t appear as such but rather as a shambles of individual players. The supervisor’s board had to find out eventually that the so-called top-notch-solution did not work out and the sports director now has the unthankful task to search for a new manager besides the already existing construction site of the size of the Berlin airport named squad. (Nope, it’s not gonna be Bob, the Builder). And due to the Corona-crisis, all that is happening in the light of a rather unknown financial future which might make it even more difficult to get rid of some players. 
But it’s for sure: every single step during the summer has to fit.

// Tim (Translated by Arne)