Alex Miller's Sheffield Wednesday column: Players need to step up and repay Darren Moore's protection
It’s all been rather fraught recently, hasn’t it?
And it’s understandable. Though their position – two points off the playoff places – is a long, long way from disastrous, Sheffield Wednesday should be doing better than they are in the league table.
Fine margins have cost them, be it Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s absent-minded roll-out at Ipswich, the late meltdown at Wimbledon or Barry Bannan’s missed penalty in the draw against Shrewsbury Town. It’s nothing new for those in blue and white, but those fine margins are costing them dearly.
Which brings us onto the central thread of this ramble. So far this season the ire of supporters, certainly online, seems to have been pointed in one particular direction; at Wednesday manager Darren Moore.
Moore himself has admitted he has made mistakes along the way in these opening weeks and that frustration over certain calls have been valid. He’s a warm and effective speaker but is not one for tub-thumping, soundbite-laden media calls that exude the sort of passion supporters might prefer.
After a defeat some supporters would like to hear a dressing-down of certain performances. There was frustration at Wimbledon, but Moore prefers to exude the leadership style of a father figure rather than a taskmaster.
Though he has a side to him behind the scenes that suggests he’s not one to be messed with, public lashings are simply not his style.
It means less of a light has been directed at a number of sub-par performances by his players. It’ll take time for on-field matters to gel, this we know, but aside from Lee Gregory not one player would claim to be having a great season, you suspect.
While it is the manager that puts the pieces together, it is up to the players to take responsibility and begin to front up.
Much has been said about the fact many of Wednesday’s players are of ‘Championship quality’ and they are. It’s time to show it. This group of players are 13 matches into Wednesday’s bold new era and it’s time they took the season by the bootlaces.
Speaking to The Star after Tuesday evening’s draw at Cambridge United, Moore was asked whether he was satisfied with how quickly his players were picking up his methods.
Tellingly and for the first time, he replied with something less than absolute defence of his charges.
“Half and half really,” he admitted after a long and thoughtful pause. “I see signs and understanding in terms of getting there.
“We’re always in a position where the other team is trying to stop us doing what we’re doing and we’re a new team that is coming together this season.
“As the weeks go by I feel we’re getting stronger and stronger and we’re working extremely hard to apply those principles but the methods have to be based on winning games on a Saturday and that won’t change.”
The bottom line, of course, is that the buck stops with Moore when it comes to performances on the pitch. Many outings in this still-young season have been below par. Again, it’s something he’s not shied away from.
But it’s high time his players began to repay his protection.