It's more than just ability Sheffield Wednesday are looking for in new signings - Alan Biggs' Owls column
Character checks on targeted players are standard practice. But they will be more important than ever at Sheffield Wednesday this summer - if or, more hopefully, when the theory finally becomes practical.
That the club currently has a limited field for recruitment - only free agents and non-fee-paying loans - suggests it can’t be too picky.
Actually the reverse ought to be true, particularly in the case of younger players making their way in the game.
For them League One might not be too daunting; playing for Sheffield Wednesday certainly can be.
It requires a steely mentality and a tougher temperament than playing for just any club at this level. That’s assuming the Owls can be that picky with a host of well-publicised issues to resolve before they can hope to attract targets.
Let’s presume they can. No disrespect to, say, Lincoln, Crewe or Accrington, but turning out for a fallen giant in the third tier demands something more than ability. Or Doncaster Rovers for that matter, from where Darren Moore arrived at Hillsborough last season.
Having played at all levels, including the Premier League, the Owls boss will know the mindset needed to succeed at Hillsborough.
So it is more than just a case of trying to pick off the best talent looking for a club this close-season.
Examples? Ok there were fees here but Kieran Lee, who arrived from Oldham in 2012, is a positive one; Massimo Luongo (via Swindon and QPR) more recently. For a negative, not much beats Lloyd Owusu, a big signing in 2002 who couldn’t handle the step up from Slough and Brentford.
Which brings to mind a former manager’s method of impressing all this on recruits during his time at Hillsborough. Gary Megson would march them up the mountainous steps of the Kop and point to the postage stamp of their new stage far below.
Michail Antonio and Jose Semedo were two Megson signed who were certainly made of the right stuff.
Filling that stage requires more than ability. It’s having the inner strength to cope with the size of the setting, the expectation of (hopefully) large and noisy crowds.
So you could argue it’s not just about signing “good characters”, as in being diligent pros who sacrifice for the team, but in some cases almost the reverse of that. People with a defiant attitude, maybe even a touch of cockiness.
Wednesday haven’t been over-blessed in the leadership stakes over recent years and, amid the club’s current depression, they will need big personalities next season, players not afraid of expressing themselves when the going gets tough.
Of course, you can get experienced players on the way down who have proved in the past they can handle this sort of pressure, but do they have the hunger?
All in all, it’s a tall order for Moore given the tight restrictions on his choice. And all the more reason why he should be the one calling the shots.