Ron, Sturrock and Meggo: How Darren Moore's slow-and-steady start to Sheffield Wednesday's promotion push compares with iconic seasons past

It would be fair in some ways to describe Sheffield Wednesday’s start to the season as ‘slow and steady’.

Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 5:00 pm

Darren Moore’s Owls have lost only three times in the league but sit in seventh place after 22 matches with a tally of 37 points, a position that sees them just five points back from the automatic promotion spots and outside the playoff places on goal difference.

Despite the fact that no team in the division has drawn more matches than Wednesday’s 10, that 37-point haul is the second-best of any Wednesday side has achieved since the days of Trevor Francis.

So how does this start rate against those of the club’s three most recent successful promotion campaigns? We took a look and there are certainly some close comparisons to be made..

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1990/91 – Promotion to the First Division and winners of the Rumbelows Cup

A storied season, Ron Atkinson’s side had just been relegated from the top tier and were seen as the side to beat in Division Two, with a host of players that were generally regarded as too good for the division.

A re-jigging of the league structure mean that in the 1990/91 season no fewer than three teams would taste automatic promotion from the second tier, but remarkably after 22 matches Atkinson’s much-fancied Owls were outside of those places in fourth.

There had been famous wins and the side were showing all the right signs of coming good, but like today’s lot they had drawn 10 times, more matches than anybody else in the division and were on 40 points.

Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore has built a solid points tally this season.

They’d go on to finish third and earn promotion two points ahead of Neil Warnock’s Notts County and beat Manchester United to win the League Cup.

2004/05 – Promotion to the Championship via the play-offs

In a first half of the season in which headlines were dominated by the sacking of Wednesday icon Chris Turner as manager, Paul Sturrock had inherited a side expected to challenge once again.

But like their modern day successors after 22 matches they were outside of their target playoff berth, placed in ninth, three points off the top six. They had four fewer points than Moore’s side have currently (33) and were 11 points from the top two.

Sturrock’s side qualified for the playoffs on the penultimate day of the season and went up courtesy of a famous day at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, beating Hartlepool United 4-2 after extra time.

2011/12 – Promotion to the Championship as runners-up

After 22 matches of a season in which the Owls were expected to be among the favourites for the League One title, Owls legend Gary Megson was building a head of steam.

Though after 22 matches they had just tumbled out of the top two to fall a point behind Sheffield United, it is the highest the club had been in the table at that stage of the season for over two decades.

Indeed, it is the only occasion since the days of Trevor Francis that saw Wednesday on a better points total after 22 matches than Darren Moore’s side.

Remarkably, Megson lost his job at the end of February to be replaced by Dave Jones, who saw his side promoted on the final day with a 2-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers.