Caretaker boss Lee Bullen hopes to be offered a role in the new Wednesday managerial set-up after guiding us to a 1-0 home win over Preston on Saturday.
Steve Bruce is the odds-on favourite to succeed Jos Luhukay as manager, with Steve Clemence and Steve Agnew – his assistants at last club, Villa – both watching from the South Stand as Wednesday clinched an important three points thanks to a second-half header from Michael Hector.
Speaking after only our second win in 11 games took us eight points clear of the drop zone, Bullen said he hopes to be given the chance to be part of the new regime … whether that is at first team level, the academy or whatever … and that he doesn’t know if he will be asked to take charge of the team again for the Boxing Day trip to Middlesbrough.
Bullen added that he thought it would be a good move if Bruce was to take over, saying: “If that is the case I think the chairman has done the right thing. For a manager of Steve’s credentials, if you get the opportunity to talk to him, you don’t knock it back. He’s been there and done it.”
Reflecting on the victory over Preston, who were reduced to 10 men in the first half when Ben Pearson was red- carded for a poor challenge on Marco Matias, Bullen said: “We are very happy but it is tainted a little bit by the fact that a good man lost his job 24 hours ago. But we had a job to do today. The players and supporters were fantastic in the way they responded.”
Bullen made five changes to the team which lost at Swansea, recalling Keiren Westwood in goal for his first Championship game of the season while two other senior players who hardly figured under Jos Luhukay – Sam Hutchinson and George Boyd – came on as late subs in the second half.
Wednesday twice went close in the first period, Steven Fletcher seeing his header clawed away by Preston keeper Declan Rudd and then Lucas Joao’s powerful header came back off a post, before Hector nodded home the winner on 62 minutes.
At the other end it was only our third clean sheet of the season, with Preston hardly troubling Westwood and managing just one shot on target.
Explaining how he came to be given the caretaker role again, Bullen said: “I came out of the press conference yesterday and Jos wasn’t there. Then I had a call from the chairman who came up to the training ground to explain the situation and tell me I would be in charge.
“From a timing point of view it wasn’t particularly ideal. We had trained all week in preparation for the game and then it was like ‘the ball is in your court, deal with it’.”
The caretaker boss added: “I made a couple of home calls to players last night to let them know they wouldn’t be playing. It was a gamble to put some of those players in, but the atmosphere at Hillsborough has been pretty tough lately so I had to look at it from that aspect and luckily enough the decisions were vindicated with the result.”
Westwood, Palmer, Lees, Hector, Fox, Pelupessy, Onomah (Hutchinson 80), Matias (Boyd 88), Reach, Joao, Fletcher (Nuhiu 80).