Watford v Sheffield Wednesday - Owls turn volume up in battle against relegation

Darren Moore says Sheffield Wednesday’s season is about to go onto fast forward but what most encourages him is that the volume has been turned up.

Today’s trip to promotion-chasing Watford quickly followed by Monday’s visit of Cardiff City, is the first of nine matches in 36 days which will decide if the Owls play next season in the Championship or League One. They are six points adrift of safety, though Rotherham United’s four games in hand on 21st-placed Birmingham City might skew the picture slightly.

The Owls could probably have done without having to wait a fortnight to build on Moore’s first win as manager, against in-form Barnsley, but he has seen – and heard – good signs on the training ground since.

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“Winning breeds confidence, you could feel it,” he said. “There’s nothing better for any professional when you’ve earned the three points in a really tough game and I think it was fully deserved.

Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore. Picture: PA

“I suppose people would have said they wanted the games to keep coming but we understand what it is. Mentally we keep our focus.

“It’s given us the chance to do some work on the training ground and just really plan and prepare in areas we feel that we need to start recognising and understanding, and to try and get better in those areas of our game.

“You’ll probably press the fast forward button from now until the end of the season because of the way the games are coming and the preparation. This is the final furlong of the season and we’ve got to keep our focus on what we need to do here at Wednesday and what we need to work towards achieving.

“We’ll be ready.”

Moore says training has been noisier recently, which he takes as a sign that his ideas about the game are sinking in.

“As a head coach or manager you can get ahead of yourself because there’s a multitude of stuff you want to do but it’s all got to be structured from a physical point of view,” he explained.

“When you first come they’re a bit quieter because it’s a different voice and it’s just them honing in and listening in so it’s concentration.

“Once they understand how you work, the volume goes up, which is good.

“I want a positive environment and a respectful one. Irrespective of who the players are speaking to there has to be that same respect and humility.

“That’s something I’ve had at previous clubs and if the players feel that sense of positivity I get the best out of them.

“In the work on the training ground and in games we’ve seen patches where we’ve done well and others where we’ve not kept our foot on the gas.

“In the Barnsley game we were more disciplined, harder to beat. We went about the game in the right way and everyone to a man played their part.

“It’s going to take performances like that and some (to avoid relegation).”

Watford have had seven players on international duty over the past fortnight, but they still have plenty of residues of Premier League quality after their time in the top division.

“One thing guaranteed is it will be a quality team, you can rest assured on that,” promised Moore. “You only have to look who’s still in the building.

“They’re a top, top team at the level we’re at but we have to look to our own matters here and build on performances that have been positive.

“We have to be at our level best if we are to take anything from the game. It’s going to need to be a whole-team performance.

“They’re a team that asks questions of you. Individually we’ve got to be good as well.

“It’s a real top high-level game of Championship football and I hope people will witness a very, very good game and a competitive match. We’re looking forward to it.”

Moore can take encouragement from his team’s performances against the top sides, and from the fact he has Liam Shaw, Keiren Westwood, Sam Hutchinson, Joost van Aken, and Fisayo Dele-Bashiru back in training.

“It shows the levels we got,” he said of the way his team has performed against the best. “We know what we’ve got in the building, we’ve got good pros. They have to switch on that mental capacity and if you’re switched on mentally, the feet will follow.”

Last six games: Watford WWWWWL; Sheffield Wednesday WDLLLL

Referee: C Kavanagh (Manchester)

Last time: Watford 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1, May 2, 2015, Championship.

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