Alan Biggs: looming anniversary another reminder of Sheffield Wednesday’s plight

Nigel Pearson will be hogging a few headlines around Hillsborough whatever happens when his Bristol City side come visiting on Saturday.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 8:35 am

It’s another stark reminder of Sheffield Wednesday’s desperate predicament that within four days of this weekend’s game the former Owls skipper will be at the centre of an anniversary celebration.

Next Wednesday marks 30 years since Pearson held aloft the League Cup at Wembley after a 1-0 victory over Manchester United.

That momentous event - to be commemorated by colleague Alex Miller’s book “1991” - has no direct relevance to Saturday’s game. Or does it?

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Former Sheffield Wednesday captain Nigel Pearson challenges Mark Hughes of Manchester United during the 1991 League Cup Final.

Some of that spirit of conquest needs to rub off. And pretty damn quickly.

While there is no way the current team can ever be referred to in such hallowed terms, a “great escape” in 2021 won’t be easily forgotten, such is the current plight.

The situation is now so bleak that any source of inspiration has to be seized. You could say that the major trophy of three decades ago adds pressure, too, as a reminder of what club’s boasting Wednesday’s support should be able to achieve more regularly.

Dropping into the third tier - for the third time since the Premier League exit of 2000 - would highlight this story of colossal under-achievement.

Not to have picked up a single point in any match this season after falling behind is more than damning; it is disgraceful.

But there is an even bigger lesson for the future as this stale squad rots its way to relegation. Wednesday’s more successful periods of the last 40 plus years have tended to be powered by single-minded managers doing it their way.

The game has changed and managers no longer hold - or could cope with - the degree of executive power they once held.

However, Jack Charlton, Howard Wilkinson and Ron Atkinson (in 1991, building a team pushed further upwards by Trevor Francis) were strong characters who were trusted to work to a plan of THEIR making.

Current manager Darren Moore isn’t as extrovert or, in some cases, abrasive. But it strikes me he carries a similar degree of goodwill and respect among players who clearly enjoy working for him despite another defeat on Tuesday.

The absolute key for me, though, is that all the above worked to a pre-set budget and it was up to them and their aides how they managed it. If this isn’t happening now, as seems to be the case, then this is what MUST change.

Right now Moore’s relationship with his players is Wednesday’s best and only hope of survival.

The team’s serial inconsistency has left them with little tactical choice other than to go for it in every match, take risks and hope to out-score the opposition.

And it may even need five wins out of five. But don’t judge Moore on this - he has to be part of the eventual solution.