Sheffield Wednesday have been criticised in recent seasons for their transfer dealings, for paying over-the-odds to players known to be past their best and issuing contracts longer than necessary to ageing names. It’s a reality that cost them dearly – both on and off the pitch.
The balance of power when it comes to such decisions has shifted. David Downes remains head honcho of the recruitment team, but it’s widely understood that increased power has been placed in the hands of Darren Moore.
Garry Monk previously described a veto system when it came to transfer dealings. But where his influence, and presumably that of his predecessors, was one significant voice in committee, Moore is believed to have a much firmer hand on the wheel.
To what end is still unknown of course. It should be noted that Moore’s hands were tied when in the summer in the sense that not only was he limited to free transfers and loan deals, but other clubs stole a march of a couple of months on the Owls while uncertainty over their transfer embargo hung heavy.
We know Wednesday missed out on targets in that time – how many of the current crop would have been signed ahead of the players missed out on is unclear.
As per respected statistics outlet Wyscout, Wednesday have the second-oldest playing squad behind fellow promotion chasers Wycombe Wanderers. The big(gish) names are still there, for which both manager and owner Dejphon Chansiri earned deserved praise for their efforts.
While rumours swirl as they always do, the bottom line is that we don’t know what wages Saido Berahino or Nathaniel Mendez-Laing are on, the same as Barry Bannan, Josh Windass or Dominic Iorfa.
For all we know, there has been little change in the wage structure at Wednesday and the switch towards the sustainable business model Chansiri spoke of last year was all chatter. We’re forever two years behind (plus often a little VAT) when it comes to accounts.
But reports of what the club felt appropriate to offer Danny Batth paint a picture and there is a sense that with new faces in the driving seat, Wednesday are moving towards something more sensible, on more sensible wages and on more sensible time frames.
Let’s hope that in these most testing of times it proves to be the case.
Jordan Storey has been added to the side this week, a player who tips the loan balance back to six. He is the latest in a long, long line of new Wednesday men to speak glowingly on Moore’s influence on his signing. It’s nothing new for a new player to trot out these lines, of course, but there’s something in the way these things are said.
The Owls signed up youngsters Alex Hunt and Ciaran Brennan to new deals – Brennan to two years no less – in doing so avoiding another imminent Hirst/Clare/Shaw/Urhoghide debacle. It would be greedy and more than a little uncouth to suggest these deals should have been completed pre-January.
Football has fast become a game played off the field as much as on it. It does feel like Wednesday are edging towards something more wholesome.