Sheffield Wednesday: ‘Calming influence’ of Darren Moore vital as Owls chase down top-two finish

Rudyard Kipling spoke about the importance of individuals keeping their heads when others are losing theirs in his famous poem If.

At the business end of football seasons, the ability to display that quality is a priceless commodity for players and most definitely managers of aspiring teams.

Sheffield Wednesday chief Darren Moore is certainly doing that, in the view of experienced defender Liam Palmer.

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Over their last six League One matches, the Owls – alongside promotion rivals Sunderland – have been the form sides of the division, while other high-fliers have started to stumble, most notably Rotherham United.

Sheffield Wednesday's manager Darren Moore. Picture: PA

Wednesday have held their nerve to claim three points against AFC Wimbledon and most recently Crewe and also claimed a keynote victory at a rival in MK Dons.

That win against MK last Saturday showcased the Owls’ mental fortitude to bounce back immediately in the process after being pegged back in bitter fashion in their previous game – a last-gasp draw at Bolton.

Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over relegated Crewe secured Wednesday’s second win over Easter on a night when defeats for MK and the Millers maintained the Hillsborough outfit’s outside chance of finishing in the second automatic position spot.

Moore’s fourth-placed side are four points off second-placed Rotherham with three matches to go, but the last thing that the Owls chief will be doing is getting giddy – and with good reason.

Owls defender Liam Palmer. Picture: Steve Ellis

The sole focus will be on Saturday’s testing trip to a Wycombe side who are just two points behind them and currently occupy the final play-off spot.

On Moore, Palmer said: “He’s a calming influence. Especially at times when, as the saying goes, you need to keep your head when everyone else loses theirs.

“You can get drawn into being frustrated at yourself or frustrated at others – but he recognises a need for calm.

“He’s not always calm, though; he knows when to put his foot down and have a word and I think that he does that really well.

“But he makes us realise that it’s not as bad as what the missed chances can make it feel – and we ended up winning [against Crewe] so, ultimately, he sees the bigger picture as a manager. And that’s something that the players value.”

As it stands, just four points separate five clubs from the Owls down to eighth-placed Oxford United.

Two of those sides in Wednesday and Sunderland have a game in hand on their rivals next Tuesday. Before that, there is fiendish fixture intrigue on Saturday with the Owls facing sixth-placed Wycombe and Oxford heading to Rotherham.

Plymouth, who currently occupy fifth place, go to leaders Wigan, who will be promoted and secure the title if they beat Argyle and the Millers don’t pick up three points against Oxford.

Wednesday broke the resistance of Crewe with a 55th-minute penalty from Lee Gregory. It was a night when the Owls had 17 chances to the visitors’ one, but won by just a single goal.

One was ultimately enough.

“Looking back on the balance of play, I don’t think anyone can say we didn’t deserve it,” Moore commented.

“As long as we’re creating chances, we’ll score. I’m pleased with the three points and clean sheet.

“We have consistency and momentum. It was a tough game. Crewe have been relegated but they didn’t just lie down.

“In the middle of the pitch they made it very, very competitive.
We had 17 shots to their one, but we still had to be careful and cautious.”

Being careful and cautious in not looking too far ahead is serving Moore and Wednesday well at the minute.