Pity the 23,521 who had to make do with football so dismal – with the exceptions of Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, whose shot Josh Griffith pushed wide in the 55th minute, and Dennis Adeniran who put the loose ball into the net for an undeserved Owls goal after 55 minutes – they booed the home players off at full-time.
And at half-time. And in the first half when Saido Berahino, lively until then but not after, played a dreadful backpass Barry Bannan stood off. And in the 51st minute when James Robson was hungrier to a poor pass to Lee Gregory and created a chance Lewis Fiorini ought to have worked Bailey Peacock-Farrell harder from.
Far more entertaining than Sheffield Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Lincoln City’s was their manager’s 25-minute post-match press conference that was an object in obdurate obfuscation as he masterfully avoided saying anything that could even be interpreted as negative about his under-performing players beyond acknowledging (some of) the glaringly obvious in the gentlest, vaguest way possible.
He said: “It was not a good enough performance because we didn’t win. The only way you change it is by looking to the next game.”
Set-pieces are “an area we need to address and get better at” after Lewis Montsma’s 80th-minute equalising header from a corner.
“It is up to me to look back at the video and see why, where, how he got free,” said Moore, rather than point the finger at players his coaches were screaming at as they lined up for it.
He “wanted to throw more caution to the wind” but was frustrated “we didn’t shut the back door”.
How will he change Wednesday’s mentality? “Aim to get that win and build from there.”
“There’s many questions being asked and all I want is to be winning games,” he added.
If his team was even half as good defensively, they would be top of the table.
The five journalists firing questions in waves were not looking to trip him up, just seeking reassurance he knew what was wrong with a team who even in the early stages of a rebuild ought to be better than ninth in League One, and that he had a plan to address it.
If he did, his players had done a great job of hiding it in a disjointed performance where in the first 20 minutes of the first half and first 10 of the second they defended as if they had only met in the warm-up, only been told the formation in the tunnel. Even with Dele-Bashiru and Adeniran’s thrust from midfield, their attacking threat was negligible.
Between us, we had 22 attempts without a single breakthrough. Stood in Wednesday tracksuit and gillet, flanked by a press officer who may as well have been tucking into popcorn, Moore batted every one off, his glass never less than half-full.
In an encore that was never going to match the main event, Adeniran told the same reporters “when he needs to get into you, he’ll get into you,” but only, it would seem, in the dressing room.When, 20 minutes in, Moore told us “You won’t hear me ever blame one individual ever” we had long since got the message.
“Are the players letting you down?” he was asked.
“No,” he repeated 12 times over damning statistics, just about resisting putting his fingers in his ears. “That’s why I’m here.”
He was pleased “the performance level was not what we set and we still managed to come out with a result”. Drawing without playing well is pleasing, but wears thin when it becomes a habit. Even more so when you draw after playing well too, his assessment the previous weekend.
There was even a positive to the boos – “a driving stick”. “Did it affect the players? We took the lead so I would say no.”
When we finally accepted defeat, Moore gave five fist bumps and walked off grinning. He got grins back. When you know Moore, he is extremely hard to dislike and sometimes you just have to accept you were beaten by a quality performer.
These, though, are not the victories Moore wants and needs with a chairman who seldom sits on his hands when he even starts to suspect an Owls manager is not cutting the mustard.
Guessing Moore’s teams might be a fun game but the best sides do not often spring surprises like Marvin Johnson in a three-man defence. He did well there, although Moore’s explanation that it was so he could “step on” did not really match up with his what-it-says-on-the-tin display.
The fans make playing well for Wednesday at Hillsborough easy, but playing badly there is tough. It takes courage only youngsters Dele-Bashiru and Adeniran showed, the latter with words as well as deeds.
“It’s the second time [in a week] we’ve conceded from a corner and I felt like we shouldn’t with the height we’ve got,” he argued.
“We can play as well as we want but if we don’t win it’s pointless because we’re not achieving what we want, which is promotion.
“It’s pure anger in there because we should be winning games like this and last week’s.”
Moore undoubtedly shares that anger, just not with the public. He reached for the playbook well thumbed by his predecessors to hint at deep historical ills.
“We need to change the mentality of this place and that’s what I have come to do. I’ve seen it, I know it and I will do it,” he vowed.
Exactly how is none of your business. We did try.
Sheffield Wednesday: Peacock-Farrell, Palmer, Iorfa, Johnson, Hunt, Adeniran, Bannan, Brown (Shodipo 87), Dele-Bashiru, Berahino (Corbeanu 82), Gregory (Paterson 62). Unused substitutes: Kamberi, Dunkley, Wing, Wildsmith.
Lincoln City: Griffiths, Poole, Montsma, Jackson, Robson, Sorensen, McGrandles (N’Lundulu 79), Bishop, Scully (Draper 74), Fiorini, Maguire. Unused substitutes: Mair, Sanders, Adelakun, Bramall, Eyoma.
Referee: Martin Coy (County Durham).