Alex Miller on Sheffield Wednesday: Mr Nice Guy has a ruthless side - and he'll need it

Whoever you speak to in football, where the subject matter is the current Sheffield Wednesday manager, the conversation always seems to circle back to one thing; that he’s an utter gentleman.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 5:00 pm

They were lines pushed into the ears of those of us trying to get the inside line on him after his appointment back when February turned to March; that he was personable, honest and for the media a pleasure to deal with.

And so it has proven; a fist-bump, a smile and a genuine earnest behind his answers, you can’t help but feel Darren Moore just likes talking to people, whether they happen to have a dictaphone in front of his mouth or not. That hasn’t always been the case with former Owls bosses.

The same went for ex-teammates, agents and players to have played under his management. The term ‘Gentle Giant’ cropped up so much he has a sure claim for trademark rights. He’s seemingly universally liked.

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Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore.

These pages have already discussed the importance of a team’s identity to be positive, mirroring that of its architect.

And naturally, the question has been asked; is he, actually, too nice?

The answer is no. Anecdotes from Moore’s playing career suggest the Gentle Giant (TM) has a sterner side that should not be tested. Stories from inside the Sheffield Wednesday camp confirm the fact he is not a manager to be taken lightly.

And so it proved on Saturday, in the baking sun at Barnsley’s Oakwell training ground, when asked about the situation with his goalkeepers.

Both Joe Wildsmith and Cameron Dawson, for whom there have been high hopes and well wishes for years and years, have made preseason errors that have stumbled their audition for the number one spot this season.

Asked how he saw the battle between the two of them he said with a clear inference it was up to them to prove their worth.

Later asked whether he was on the lookout for a new goalkeeper, with no hesitation to duck the question or give a politician’s answer, he spoke honestly; ‘Yes, if possible.’

The fact is that with all the goodwill in the world to Wildsmith and Dawson, both hugely talented keepers, their auditions have been less than inspiring.

Moore has spoken a number of times in this preseason alone about the need to cut out individual errors and though the two stoppers are far from alone in having their moments, his honest quest for the best is clear.

Though the hunt for Burnley’s Bailey Peacock-Farrell appears to be running dry, it is encouraging to see him going after a Premier League player with international caps.

Many would suggest the presence of Wildsmith and Dawson – two goalkeepers with over 75 appearances for the Owls – would mean they could easily make do and get away with pooling resources elsewhere.

The same goes for the signing of Jack Hunt at right-back, a position in which they already have Liam Palmer.

Moore brings with him a reputation for the niceties, but is in no way too gentile to make tough calls and strive for the very best.

That bodes well for Sheffield Wednesday.