It caused quite a shock when yesterday the news filtered through that both Marcus Kauczinski and Uwe Stöver were fired from their respective positions at FC St. Pauli. The meager results of the past few weeks were enough for the board to rid themselves of this less-than-iconic duo. They didn’t waste any time, however, in selecting a successor to Kauczinski: 55-year-old Dutchman Jos Luhukay was appointed to guide Die Kiezkicker to a promotion spot.
The appointment led to a lot of questions amongst the fans: why are some English FCSP fans so angry at Luhukay? What route to take next Sunday now that the U3 is under construction? But, more importantly, who the fuck is Jos Luhukay exactly? In this post, I’ll attempt to shed some light on the last question.
Jos as a player
Jos Luhukay was born on the 13th of June in the year of our Lord 1963 to a Maluku father and a Dutch mother, who both died when Jos was young. He started playing at local club VVV-Venlo and made his debut on 11 January 1981. A real breakthrough never did happen for the attacking midfielder at that time, and he decided to say farewell to professional football and play for local non-league teams like SV Venray and VOS instead. But, in 1986 he returned to VVV and became a key player, even becoming the club’s top scorer two years in a row. In 1990 the club, with Luhukay as a number ten, won promotion to the Eredivisie. This earned him a move to Eredivisie side RKC Waalwijk. He made the fateful crossing to his second homeland Germany when then-Bundesliga side KFC Uerdingen signed him in 1995. His time there was not a great success, and he moved to SV Straelen, a feeder club of KFC Uerdingen. He played until the ripe age of 35 and then called it a day.
Starting off as a manager
In the summer of 1998, he moved from the pitch to the bench when he took up the job as manager of SV Straelen, who played their games in the now-defunct Oberliga Nordrhein (in those days the 4th level of the German football pyramid). He led the team to two very credible 6th place finishes. This made a big enough impression on the KFC Uerdingen board, that he was moved to the parent club in the summer of 2000. The club had plummeted down the divisions and found itself at the third level, the Regionalliga Nord. Luhukay faced a massive job in steadying the ship and rebuilding a depleted squad. He managed both and stopped the downfall by finishing 12th and 5th in his two seasons in charge. Furthermore, he caused quite a Pokal upset by eliminating Energie Cottbus and Werder Bremen. After two years in charge of Uerdingen, he moved to the Bundesliga as assistant-manager at 1.FC Köln. In his period at Köln, he worked alongside Friedhelm Funkel (until October 2003), Marcel Koller (November 2003 – June 2004), and fellow Dutchman Huub Stevens (July 2004 – June 2005). In that period, he did manage one game as a caretaker manager after Funkel was sacked. Unfortunately, his sole game in charge of Die Geissbocken ended in a 1-2 defeat.
Luhukay returned to the job of Cheftrainer at 2. Bundesliga side SC Paderborn. The newly-promoted side managed to remain in the division quite easily, finishing 9th. However, two days before the start of the following 06/07 season, Luhukay quit. What happened? During the last preseason friendly (a 0-1 loss against Oberliga side Delbrück) general manager Günter Rybarczyk stormed into the dressing room and insulted the new players Luhukay had brought in during that summer. This lead to a complete loss of confidence and Luhukay informed his manager of his decision to step back. Funnily enough, it is his new assistant-manager at FC St. Pauli Markus Gellhaus who took over as caretaker. In total, this will be the fourth time Gellhaus and Luhukay will work together, after previous stints at Mönchengladbach, FC Augsburg, and Hertha BSC.
Becoming Promotion Man
He remained without a job for only a couple of months, landing a gig in January 2007 as assistant to Jupp Heynckes at Borussia Mönchengladbach. The 06/07 was a nightmare season for Die Fohlen, and Heynckes quit only a month after Luhukay was appointed. This left Jos in charge, but he could not halt the decline and he oversaw a disastrous relegation to the 2. Bundesliga. The board kept faith in Luhukay and he remained cheftrainer. With him in charge, Mönchengladbach managed to immediately return to the Bundesliga. However, losing six of the first seven games of the new 08/09 season meant Luhukay had to go.
On April 14th, 2009 he became the new manager of 2. Bundesliga-side FC Augsburg. At the end of the 2009-2010 season, he managed to secure a third-place finish but unfortunately lost the promotion play-off against 1.FC Nürnberg. However, next season he managed to secure promotion by ending the season in 2nd place. It was a historic achievement because Augsburg had never played at the highest level before. They were the absolute relegation favorites next season, but Luhukay managed to avoid relegation by reaching 14th place. Even though his period at Augsburg was a big success, he quit at the end of the 2011-2012 season, citing a difference of opinion with the board.
His next job took him to Berlin, where 2. Bundesliga-side Hertha BSC was the next to profit from his promotion making skills. He managed to secure promoting during his first season in charge by winning the league, losing only two matches all season. Next season he managed to get his newly promoted side to 11th place. But the season after that, all went wrong. He was sacked in February 2015, after losing 11 of his 20 matches and leaving the club near the bottom of the table.
The next 2. Bundesliga-club that needed his special touch was VfB Stuttgart, who got relegated to the second level the year before. His tenure at Stuttgart lasted all but a few months. He got into a conflict with technical director Jan Schindelmeiser, who recruited a number of players behind Luhukay’s back which were not of his liking.
It was probably his reputation as a promotion specialist which landed him a job across the pond. Sheffield Wednesday was desperate to reach the Premier League, but at the same time hampered by financial constraints. In January 2018 they surprisingly appointed Luhukay as successor to Carlos Carvalhal. He led The Owls to a 15th place finish, but a weak start to his first full season got him sacked in December 2018, after only 11 months in charge. Even though Luhukay has been accused of having no idea how to play, he was also constrained by Financial Fair Play rules, which allowed the club only on permanent and two loan signings.
So, how to sum up a career? Jos Luhukay is primarily known as a promotion specialist, managing to get Borussia Mönchengladbach, FC Augsburg, and Hertha BSC promoted from the 2. Bundesliga to the first. But at each club, the results at that higher level sooner or later floundered, which ended up in the termination of his contract. Other times, he left of his own volution because of a conflict with the people in charge at the club. This makes him a strong-headed manager who can be successful, but only if things are done his way.
It is probably his reputation as a promotion specialist that landed him the job at FC St. Pauli. Furthermore, both Rettig and Gellhaus have worked with him before, which also probably aided the making of this appointment. Even though promotion this season is a hard task, but if Luhukay is given a full season in charge he might just get us promoted at the next time of asking. But, on the other hand, he might just walk away if he feels things aren’t to his satisfaction.