Alan Biggs' Sheffield Wednesday column: Case for Lee Bullen to be manager strengthens
It can take a strong man to leave things alone. A change in management but who can tell? An uproar over it, but who’s still complaining now?
Steve Bruce could still be in charge of Sheffield Wednesday judging by the way they have started the season. His planning, from fitness to recruitment, is being implemented.Which is to give Lee Bullen due credit rather than deny him any - and I get the impression a majority of supporters would back him being given a long-awaited opportunity to manage the Owls.Effectively, in the eyes of the owner, he is already doing just that, whether he has the title or not. Dejphon Chansiri, staying in the background as ever, will probably feel he has no question to answer at this point.Bullen has been the first to admit that, for all the understandable rancour over Bruce’s departure, the former boss left things in remarkably good shape.Indeed, the recruitment specialists he brought to Hillsborough were ultimately influential in as good a window as the club has known in recent times. And sometimes it is much more of a strength than a weakness to leave well alone and resist the temptation for any self-styled tinkering.But, for all that, Bullen has shown a certain boldness in his opening selections and approach. He won’t die wondering.His 4-3-3 looks - so far at least - to be the perfect vehicle for harnessing the new-found pace in the team, besides the fitness instilled by Bruce.As he pointed out last weekend, after the second of two back-to-back wins with five goals scored, wingers in a 4-4-2 tend to be pushed inside, placing a reliance on full backs to provide overlapping width.The beauty of the system that did for Barnsley is that Jacob Murphy and Kadeem Harris, playing either side of Steven Fletcher, were always liberated to run at and attack defenders.With Adam Reach behind and Moses Odubajo an athletic right back, Wednesday looked transformed from the pedestrian team of recent seasons.Bullen tells me there are some opponents who will dictate greater caution, but he is committed to letting attacking players operate simply and naturally.Let’s be realistic in that so far, after beginning with a 3-1 win at Reading, Wednesday have played two of the unfancied sides in the Championship. The same is true of Saturday’s visit to Millwall.But it is the feeling of more to come, a side starting to get into the groove, that inspires confidence in what lies ahead.Bullen doesn’t necessarily have to win at the Den, always a tough venue, to land the job but you’d guess another three points could again go a long way to sealing it for him. And deservedly so. It’s clear the players are backing his claims, which goes a long way. So does his popularity with the Hillsborough crowd.And no outside candidate could possibly match his knowledge of the players or passion for the club.“It’s Bullen’s to lose,” is the popular refrain in the corridors of Hillsborough. Looking at the determination of a wonderfully fit again Kieran Lee, not to mention Sam Hutchinson and the impact of new players including Julian Borner, it is becoming more about what he has to gain.