Sheffield Wednesday fans want structure and identity to their team, not platitudes from Darren Moore - Stuart Rayner

Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore is quite different to Doncaster Rovers manager Darren Moore.

Owls manager Darren Moore needs to find an identity (Picture: Steve Ellis)

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Sheffield Wednesday boss Darren Moore accentuates the positive despite boos ring...

In terms of resources, expectation and the issues facing them, they are two very different clubs.

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You could bet your life on how Doncaster were going to play under Moore last season; when it comes to Wednesday, it is a tricky guessing game.

Owls manager Darren Moore during the draw with Lincoln (Picture: Steve Ellis)

No matter how many centre-backs, left-backs, centre-forwards or whatever else were on Doncaster’s team-sheet, they would be shoehorned into a 
4-2-3-1 formation that would try to get the ball down and play.

Inflexibility can be a fault unless you are lucky enough to have the calibre of players to do things your way regardless. It is when Pep Guardiola tries to get clever and change things with Manchester City – as in the Champions League final when he dispensed with a holding midfielder – that he tends to get criticised.

Tactical inflexibility is often used to beat Hull City’s Grant McCann. His dogged clinging to variants of 4-3-3 has exasperated Tigers fans, some of whom would have been delighted he switched to three central defenders to win at Middlesbrough recently and despairing to see him go straight back to 4-3-3 – and straight back to losing – days later.

Moore rightly points out League One is such a mix of styles that what he needs from his team varies quite wildly, and he has a much bigger pack to shuffle now. Sheffield United’s Slavisa Jokanovic often argues we get too hung up on formations. Many teams are one shape in possession, one out, or subtly change over 90 minutes.

Darren Moore tries to rally the troops against Oxford (Picture: Steve Ellis)

But it is part of a wider issue.

The chopping and changing of formations Moore started when he took the Owls job late last season and has reverted to more recently feeds into a wider narrative, as does the regular personnel changes – some enforced by injury, some not.

That the Owls mix their play up is not a bad thing especially as, with the greatest of respect, playing pure football is always going to be hard with League One footballers, as Rochdale found out when they were stylishly relegated last season.

Doncaster were well placed when Moore jumped ship to Hillsborough in March, but one point from five February matches started a slide which is – hopefully – just now starting to be shored up. We will never know if Moore could have played his way out of it with his 4-2-3-1, but his approach since suggests he might think not.

His problem now is fans do not have a clear idea about how Wednesday are trying to win promotion, and it is a big problem.

You could certainly say the same of Barnsley. Markus Schopp’s strategy has been to develop a style somewhere between the ultra-direct Valerien Ismael and possession-based Gerhard Struber, but the result has been neither one thing nor t’other.

When Sheffield United visited on Sunday it was clear how they wanted to play – patient and probing. Barnsley launched the ball long from the kick-off but this was no Ismaelesque performance, nor did they mirror Jokanovic’s method.

Rotherham United know what they are – physical, usually 3-5-2 with wing-backs who are wingers in spirit getting as many crosses into the box as possible. They know the drill and, if they fail, it will be because they are not good enough.

Ditto League Two Harrogate Town – 4-4-2, getting the ball forward, wide and across quickly, their version of the Sheffield Wednesday football Simon Weaver fell in love with. Like Rotherham they have the stability which means everyone knows what is required and how to do it.

The Wednesday fans, like their Barnsley counterparts to a greater degree, are growing restless because they can neither see nor hear where things are heading.

Moore’s reluctance to outline his thinking beyond platitudes about working harder and just needing to win would not be a problem were his team showcasing it on the pitch but, whilst they are not consistently playing to a theme, or getting results regardless, it is. His reluctance to criticise players – again, admirable in the right circumstances and certainly much better than going too far the other way – only adds to the frustration that spilled out with boos during and at the end of each half of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Lincoln City.

Moore needs fans to believe.

When Moore questioned, as many recent predecessors have, the mentality that saw them concede from another late corner at the weekend, one reader tweeted to argue it was not a valid excuse because of the huge turnover of players in the summer.

But defeatist mentalities can linger at clubs longer than players because it is not just about them.

The “Here we go again” psyche, the nervousness that comes with it, can infect the stands too because supporters know better than anyone the failings they have seen in recent years and care more about them. Disguising it can be hard, harder still for 22,000 people, as opposed to a fraction of that at many of the grounds their opponents play on.

No fan means it or wants it, but the damage is palpable. It is why making them believe is so vital.

Moore knows his own mind, but needs to make the case to his own supporters – off, or better still, on the field.