MASSIMO Luongo is refusing to look at a league table until Sheffield Wednesday have eradicated their 12-point deduction.
The Owls began the season four wins from safety after being sanctioned by the EFL for a breach of Financial Fair Play regulations.
Garry Monk’s side were tipped at 5/2 for the drop, but have already taken a four-point bite out of that deficit and Luongo insists that dressing room morale is sky high.
“A lot of people wrote us off but there’s been no doom and gloom in here,” says the 28-year-old Aussie, who arrived from QPR in a £1m deal in August last year.
“If anything, the adversity has brought everyone together. We’re all aligned, because we know that if we’re not pulling our weight, the risk of us going down is quite high.
“Our attitude from the start has been ‘Ok, we’ve got a deduction, let’s get on with it’. What we do doesn’t change. The way we play doesn’t change. All that’s changed is our objectives.
“First and foremost, we need 12 points. Until we get that back and start pushing on, nothing else really matters.
“Me, I don’t even look at the league table. What’s the point? I know where we are. It’s not going to change anything. And nobody looks at the league table until Christmas anyway.”
Luongo’s first season in Yorkshire was heavily disrupted by injury, but his intelligent displays in central midfield since the restart have drawn praise from Monk.
“He has been excellent, he really has,” said the Owls boss this week. “He is a great lad. A quiet leader. I think he has been one of our best performing players in terms of consistency so far.”
For Luongo, that improvement stems primarily from a growing familiarity with his new surroundings.
“Last year, I came into a good team full of big players,” he explains. “I was also injured a lot of the time, especially when we were winning.
“But coming into a pre-season fit, going away together – it builds that feeling of togetherness and confidence in yourself. It creates that relationship where if I say to Barry Bannan ‘Ah, come on Baz’ or he says ‘What are you doing Mass?’ nobody is going to get offended.”
Yet it is also the result of Luongo’s own development from a callow youngster at Tottenham Hotspur and a skilful No.10 at Swindon Town to the smart and tigerish midfield tactician he gradually became over 147 appearances for QPR.
“When I joined Spurs, I was so far off their academy players,” admits Luongo, who made just one League Cup appearance for the Premier League side before joining Swindon in 2013.
“I didn’t take my touch the right way. If I took more than one, I’d get tackled. It took me a long time to get up to anywhere near the level of a Tom Carroll, a Harry Kane or the other lads in my Under-23 group.
“It was only when I went on loan to Swindon that I realised I had a little bit more technique than players in League One, and a bit more room to be expressive. Now, I’m on the other end. The youngsters coming through are quicker and more technical than ever before.
“At QPR, I went in as an attacking midfielder, a No.10 or No.8. Nowadays, the kids can all do that role a lot better than me. They come through Premier League academies and it’s easy for them. Their only thought is ‘What can I do on the ball?’. But as you get older, you realise that there’s more to the game. If you put me in those attacking positions, I’m still capable of doing it.
“I just think that I’m more aware now of what a midfielder can do to help the whole team and that responsibility sort of pushes you back. Ultimately, what I’ve realised is that having that discipline gets you into the team – and keeps you there.”