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Sheffield Wednesday finally on the up as Moore bids to end two decades of misery

The Owls were relegated to League One last season but Moore has had a busy summer transforming the playing squad and culture of the Hillsborough club

Darren Moore was appointed Owls’ boss on March 1

Sheffield Wednesday fans have been through the mill in recent years.

Ever since they came within 90 minutes of the Premier League, back in 2016, it has been a story of gradual decline, an ever-changing cast of managers and very little to cheer about for one of the oldest clubs in the country.

It reached a predictable low last season when they were relegated into League One for the third time in 18 years.

The team paid the price for financial mismanagement, with a 12-point deduction that was later halved on appeal proving fatal.

After that heartbreaking relegation on the final day against Derby County, there were the usual doomsday scenarios thrown about.

Sheffield Wednesday are looking for an immediate promotion back to the Championship

They related to the club’s future amid a worrying financial state.

They were mostly justified too, with the issue of player wages either not being paid in full or on time rearing its head on more than one occasion over the past year.

But from such a grim position barely three months ago, Wednesday are now a club full of optimism.

Supporters are back watching their team again and there is genuine positivity at the way much-maligned owner Dejphon Chansiri has tried to make amends with the recruitment work undertaken and overdue review of ticket pricing.

Sheffield Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri

Centre to it all however, is one man – Darren Moore.

Today marks six months in the post for the 47-year-old and despite being in situ for only a short space of time, he has transformed the whole outlook at Hillsborough.

Key to it all has been the rapid turnover of the playing squad. Gone are the likes of long-serving Adam Reach, Jordan Rhodes and Tom Lees.

They have been replaced with a mixture of seasoned professionals and exciting talents ready to thrive in League One. The arrivals of Lee Gregory, Dennis Adeniran and Lewis Wing in particular have had fans buzzing.

Wednesday are currently second in League One

They make up a total of 14 acquisitions so far – with the eyebrow-raising addition of former West Brom striker Saido Berahino sealed well before last night’s transfer deadline cut-off point.

Some Owls’ fans might have worried slightly that so many new players would struggle to gel.

But 10 points from their first four league games, with four clean sheets to boot, suggested otherwise.

That feeling was punctuated slightly at the weekend however, with a 1-0 loss to Morecambe another sobering reminder of the many pitfalls that the third tier can throw up. Just look at how bookmakers’ favourites Ipswich have struggled so far, too.

In the grand scheme of things, Moore will hope that the Morecambe defeat proves only to be a bump in the road of his grand revival of this famous old club.

Darren Moore marks six months in the post on September 1

He has assembled a squad that on paper looks pound-for-pound the best in the division. Some Wednesdayites have even suggested this group of players would hold their own in the league above and it’s hard to argue against that.

The key over a long and difficult campaign is maintaining the high standards Moore has set and realising that they are the side, like Sunderland were and still are, who every other club wants to bring down.

Moore has spoken about his aims and it goes without saying that promotion is the number one target.

After coming into the job admitting he had a huge task of keeping them up, he was cruelly robbed of vital time with the team as he battled Covid.

He returned to the dugout for that game at Derby but Wednesday fell agonisingly short.

That made him all the more determined to succeed this season. Graeme Jones, the former West Brom assistant and friend of Moore’s, describes the Owls’ boss as “the kind of leader you want to fight for.”

Jones added: “He’s a natural leader; he’s genuine, honest, consistent and knowledgeable.”

All those traits are being displayed right now.

On the eve of this season, Moore said he was determined to take the club back at the first attempt: “I want to work hard and give the club every ounce and inch of myself in terms of getting things going.”

It is that positivity and change of approach that has been a refreshing one for Wednesday fans to hear.

It even extends to the Papa John’s Trophy – with the Owls beating Newcastle’s under-21s 3-0 last night. It represented the club’s first game in the competition for a decade.

It might be a tournament that divides opinion, but for Moore it is another useful yardstick for where this group is at.

He said of the meeting with the Magpies: “We will be taking this game seriously. We want to win every game we play. We want to go as far as we can in the competition.”

The feel-good factor is well and truly back at Hillsborough. And under Moore, the long-suffering Wednesday supporters can finally look forward to brighter days ahead.

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