Why Darren Moore deserves another chance to get Sheffield Wednesday out of League One - Stuart Rayner

By their own reckoning, Sheffield Wednesday failed on Monday night. But football clubs often do, it does not have to always mean things have to be ripped up and started again.

Thomas Tuchel failed to win the Premier League, Pep Guardiola failed to win the European Cup and the success or failure of Jurgen Klopp’s season is still to be judged but none will get sacked. Neither, it seems, will Darren Moore, with the Owls perhaps recognising what their captain Barry Bannan said after the disappointing play-off semi-final defeat to Sunderland: “It is going in the right direction, but it is not going quick enough.”

Owner Dejphon Chansiri’s backing is important, but Moore will also need the support or at least patience of a fanbase which seems split over him.

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Getting out of League One at the first attempt was always going to be a tall order, and a first for the Owls.

Close but no cigar: Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore fell two wins short of promotion. (Picture: Steve Ellis)

Forget history, though, look at the present.

Some think that because Wednesday draw massive crowds, and all the spin-offs that provides, they should go up.

None of League One’s seven best-supported teams won automatic promotion and although the leaders of that chart, Sunderland, are play-off favourites, they have been in League One for four seasons. And have never won a play-off final.

There were seven former Premier League teams in this season’s division and again all but Wigan Athletic and possibly Sunderland will be back in July.

Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore applauds the fans before the Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final, second leg match at Hillsborough (Picture: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire)

Smaller, better-run clubs like second-placed Rotherham United, third-placed Milton Keynes Dons and play-off finalists Wycombe Wanderers outperformed Ipswich Town (11th), Charlton Athletic (13th) and co as much through humility and realism.

So judging Moore purely on promotion is unfair.

Wednesday won 85 points – more than any Championship or League Two team bar Fulham and Bournemouth. It says something about a division where the top clubs are way ahead – the gap from Ipswich to 12th-placed Accrington Stanley was nine points – and the Owls’ consistency.

Achieving both after a summer where 13 players joined and 14 left was a big ask.

Sunderland manager Alex Neil (left) and Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore before the Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final, second leg (Picture: PA)

Horrendous injury lists which often saw one central defender playing in a back three before Christmas did not exactly help.

But the second-half-of-the-season improvement says something for Moore and his coaches. The Owls won 37 points in the first 23 games, 48 in the second 23.

Had the league started on New Year’s Day they would have been second, three points behind MK from a game fewer.

And there were still plenty of injuries in 2022.

Moore is not perfect.

He seems to tinker for the sake of it and is as determined to experiment with new positions as someone who got the Kama Sutra for Christmas.

The lapses of concentration behind too many late goals conceded – never more devastatingly than on Monday – are partly on him and his fitness work. Maybe his training has to take some of the blame for injuries and perhaps not enough scouting due diligence. Huddersfield Town made a point of that 12 months ago.

The vulnerability at set-pieces is alarming and the timidity in both play-off games falls at least partly at Moore’s door.

But the net result – fourth and 85 points – suggests it will not take too much to turn failure into success. Rotherham were promoted with 90 points.

It is not a free pass with no expiry date but quick-fixes are rare for big fish in League One – just ask Sunderland, Ipswich, Charlton, Portsmouth, Bolton Wanderers...