A 3-3 draw at Derby County saw the Owls relegated from the Championship in bottom place on a dramatic final day which saw them staying up for a matter of seconds after Marlon Pack’s equaliser at Cardiff City, only for Martyn Waghorn to convert the penalty which denied Wednesday the three points they needed.
Thoughts have inevitably turned to what happens next and with 13 senior players out of contract, an overhaul is guaranteed. Manager Darren Moore conceded the club were already lagging behind others in the preparations, by choice.
Moore confirmed on Saturday he has the appetite to oversee the changes and owner/chairman Dejphon Chansiri’s post-match statement backed a manager only appointed in March, too late to turn fortunes around particularly as Covid-19 and its after-effects left him fit enough to attend only one game in April.
“Tomorrow morning when I wake up I will have got a different head on me in terms of moving this place forward,” said Moore, following Saturday’s draw.
“We knew when we came here the job in hand. It whetted my appetite, and it’s in me now. The focus and attention is to look forward now. We lick our wounds from this season and we have to move on.
“We pull the curtain down on the season and the players move into their summer break but there’s conversations to be had with every single one of them, whether that’s players in contract or out of contract.
“We’ll be looking at that straight away because there’s no time to waste.
“Whether we were staying in the Championship or not it was going to be an important summer regardless because of the situation the squad’s in.”
Explaining why that work had not yet started, Moore said: “Everything from day one has always been about staying in the division. I’ve not had one meeting. Other clubs have probably been working towards next season but we haven’t. Why? Because it’s all been about staying in this division.
“I have got meetings booked and scheduled in but let us have them first before I relay things back to you and the supporters.”
But the problems at Hillsborough run deeper and the Sheffield Wednesday Supporters Trust issued its own statement calling for Chansiri to take a back seat and appoint a new chairman, chief executive and board to oversee the running of the club.
Chansiri is the only director of a club with no chief executive or director of football, and where the manager does not appear to have enough control over recruitment.
Chansiri has invested a huge amount of personal wealth in the club but bad decision-making has made him increasingly unpopular with supporters.
“As your owner and chairman, I take full responsibility for everything that happens at our club,” is how Chansiri opened his statement but there was no indication of the “modern, forward-thinking structure” called for by the Trust will be forthcoming.
Ultimately, the Owls finished three points behind Derby but there was no acknowledgement from Chansiri that the club would still be in the Championship had he not blundered in selling Hillsborough to himself and leasing it back, or of any specific mistakes in a season when he sacked two managers and went a whole mid-season transfer window without one.
The Thai tried to exploit a loophole, as Derby and others have, which allowed them to avoid reporting larger three-year losses than permitted under Football League rules. The deal was not completed in time to do that, but was recorded as doing so anyway, which is why the club were penalised six points for breaking financial fair play rules.
The Trust also called for Chansiri to engage more with fans and the Sheffield community.
The good news is Moore feels in the right condition to do his job, having only returned to work after pneumonia last week, and he has the experience of having to rebuild a club after relegation having done so with West Bromwich Albion in 2018.
“The biggest thing for me is medically to get into a position to go forward and I’m so grateful to be able to get to work,” he said.
“I got given the all-clear on Thursday to get down here, get back in the dugout and I wanted to be in the dugout. I’d far rather be down there with them.
“They said, ‘Do you want to go upstairs (and watch from the director’s’box)?’ and I said, ‘No!’
“It’s slightly different to West Brom because a lot of them were in contract and it was about keeping them. Here there’s a lot out but in terms of the task it’s very similar.”