More chances and 100 passes: Inside Darren Moore's ‘play it out’ Sheffield Wednesday revolution
Few would argue that Sheffield Wednesday’s playing style under Darren Moore hasn’t been considerably easier on the eye than some of his predecessors.
And both on and off the record, the noises coming from the club on and off the pitch is that he is a manager intent on changing things at the club, of impressing his way of doing things on a side that has had to jump from playing style to playing style in a turbulent season.
His record of two wins and a draw from his nine matches is not exactly the new manager bounce he might have hoped for, but there is an almost unanimous feeling around Wednesday that should relegation be confirmed in the coming days or weeks, he is the man to be given an extended run at turning the club around.
Moore took over a club that has, based on xG statistics, failed to create a chance that would be fairly considered to lead to a goal in 25 of their 41 league matches this season, an incredible 60 per cent. On top of that, no team has a lower goals conversion percentage than Wednesday 12 per cent.
But do the numbers back up the eye test that Moore’s influence has made the Owls a more potent attacking threat?
They do. Wednesday are operating at an xG of 1.09 per game under Moore compared with an xG of 0.86 before and though numbers are skewed a touch by the 5-0 thrashing of Cardiff, they have scored 1.22 goals per game compared with a paltry 0.72 beforehand, a rise of half a goal per game.
The most obvious change in Moore’s make-up has been the want to play out from the back, whereby he has encouraged his team to play through the thirds as opposed to the more direct preferences of some of his predecessors.
His Owls side makes an average of 403 passes per game, nearly 100 more times than the average of 306 per game previously. Some 75 of those passes are progressive, up from 61 previously.
‘Smart passes’ are up by nearly 15% per 90 minutes, from 3 to 3.45.
Moore’s ‘play from the back’ philosophy backfired for the first time this week when Andre Ayew charged down Tom Lees to supply the match-changing first goal in their 2-0 defeat to promotion-chasing Swansea City.
“It was just a lapse of concentration and they seized on it,” Moore said when asked about the error.
“We’re disappointed because it was probably more of an error by us than Swansea forcing it really and that’s the more disappointing thing.
“Nine times out of 10 when we do that we get it right, we get it up the other end and we play. Tonight it didn’t happen for whatever reason.
“There are many occasions where we got it right and we broke the lines and went through the pitch. One or two will remember it for that [Lees’ error] because it led to the goal, but when we do get it right we can cause the opposition problems.
“It’s something to learn from, we move from it and make sure we apply ourselves right for Saturday.”