Sheffield Wednesday: Time to move on for devastated Owls – Joe Crann’s column

It was like a punch to the gut, that goal… But Sheffield Wednesday’s 2021/22 season’s over – it’s time to draw a line under it.

Thursday, 12th May 2022, 6:12 pm

Momentum seemed to have swung Wednesday’s way when Lee Gregory popped up to score – once again – in the box in front of the Kop, but Patrick Roberts’ late goal silenced Hillsborough and sentenced the Owls to another year in League One.

The dust has settled now, we’ve all had a bit of a sulk and a moan, and now it’s time to move on. The last piece of the puzzle, I suppose, is the retained list – once that’s done, we really can look ahead to what comes next.

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There will be questions asked about Darren Moore’s future… Is he the right man? Can he get the job done next season? Is it time for a change?

But for me, there’s no question. If Wednesday had missed out on the play-offs it would have been a real failure, but they didn’t. They finished fourth in a very competitive top half of League One, and picked up a huge points total along the way. They were six points away from automatic promotion.

The work that Moore has done off the field is as impressive as what he’s done on it, in my eyes He found a fractured football club when he came to Hillsborough. Last season there were embargoes, and wage disputes, and potential walkouts and points deductions. Things were in disarray.

A year after that miserable relegation at Derby County, Hillsborough was full again. For a long time it’s felt like there’s been a shift in attitudes for the majority of fans, and no doubt there will be thousands of them back again when we line up against the likes of Forest Green Rovers and Exeter City next season.

Sheffield Wednesday's 2021/22 season ended in disappointment - but it's time to move on.

This season didn’t go as planned, but it does feel like some healing has been done. Wednesday seem to be on the right track. And Moore has played a big role in that.

I think 2022/23 will be different. The expectations shift again. Wednesday are no longer under restrictions, they already have a decent squad nucleus, and – fingers crossed – Moore and his technical team seem to have got a handle on the injury situation.

There are no therefores in football, and anybody who has been in League One for any period of time will tell you how tough it is to get out, but that is the expectation now.

In many ways, even though there was hope for promotion, last season felt like a consolidation season. It was about Wednesday getting themselves back on track as a football club, and hopefully stepping back into the Championship at the end of it – one part of that was achieved.

So roll on the summer. It’s going to be another busy transfer window, and there are going to be plenty of new faces by the time preseason begins at some point next month. So sit back and enjoy the ride – because next season we’ll do it all again.