‘That’s what’s needed…’ – Darren Moore talks foundations, signings and the rebuilding of Sheffield Wednesday
Darren Moore is changing things at Sheffield Wednesday. It’s a new look team, but what he’s trying to do for the Owls feels much bigger than just trying to pick up results.
A whole raft of summer signings, a new kit provider, the return of fans and the settling of off-the-field issues has brought in a new wave of positivity at Wednesday despite relegation into League One – and the manager is at the forefront of everything.
It’s a rebuild, of that there is no doubt.
There were a number of exits over the summer, with a lot of experience and appearances heading out of the door as they left for pastures new, and at first there seemed to be some worry about what sort of player the Owls would be able to recruit in their place.
Now though, with the opening game against Charlton Athletic just a few days away, Wednesdayites have a renewed sense of confidence on the back of several impressive arrivals – and the gaffer says that it’s about making all of them accountable as the games get underway.
Speaking to The Star at the Star Football Awards this week, the Owls boss explained, “The project at the club is to put a team together that’s energised, and a team that’s going to face challenges head on and be together in terms of what we face. They have roles and responsibilities, and there is clear accountability with them - and that’s what we want at the football club. That’s what’s needed here if we’re going to put the club back where it needs to be and put some solid foundations back into it.
“There’s been a lot of turnaround, and part of that turnaround is bringing in the right players. We need the right structure and balance in the team, and while I’m happier with the team in terms of where it’s at, we’re not completely satisfied with it - so we’ll continue to work. We want more balance and more competition for places.”
And that work is certainly paying off so far, with potentially more new signings on the horizon. Pretty much all of those that have put pen to paper so far have spoken about the ‘Darren Moore factor’ in terms of getting them to S6, and he says that it’s a big part of his recruitment style.
“We know who we want…” he explained. “And I do like to speak to the players… No player will come into this club without me speaking to them - and I talk to them about the environment that they’re coming into, and what’s expected of them when they come in.
“I’d rather miss out on a player if it meant that I’d had fierce competition for them, didn’t get chance to speak to them and they ended up going somewhere else. I don’t mind that, because I have to speak to the individual first. It’s something I’ve always done, and it’s something I’ll continue to do with each and every single player before signing them.
“We leave the door open, and leave it up to the individual. It’s always a two-way thing - for me to speak to them, and for them to warm to the challenge ahead. We’re always pleased when they choose to come to Sheffield Wednesday that it’s something that they want to be part of.”
Meanwhile, speaking to The Star after his heart-warming reception at Hillsborough on Sunday, Moore explained how big the loyal Wednesdayites can be for the team this season – saying that the players need to show commitment to the cause in every single game.
The Carabao Cup game was obviously not his first game in charge, but with fans back at S6 and Moore getting to meet them for the first time, it felt like his era as Wednesday manager has now officially begun.
“It was a huge moment for me, a special moment,” he said with a smile. “It was great to see them and the atmosphere was wonderful. It’s how football should be, and I’m really pleased to have them back.
“As you know, they’re a wonderful fan base, a passionate one, and they’re loud - that’s what we want.
“They’ll be huge. It’s not about ‘can they be’ - they will be huge for us… Against Huddersfield I wanted the boys to put on a high level and committed performance for them, and they showed that.
“As long as they can keep showing that determination and grit to this wonderful football club then both the supporters and the team will go hand in hand.”
But for Moore, the picture is bigger than that. And while results are key, of course, he’s determined to bring the Sheffield Wednesday family closer together.
Speaking to The Star last week, Moore said, “When you come into a football club, you don’t come into it as a sole figure and entity. I’m the team manager, and obviously the football plays a huge part in a football club.
“But what my message is, is that even though you see the team, there’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes.
For the staff members, everybody at the football club, my message is clear - we’re a family, we’re a team. We’ve all got the Sheffield Wednesday badge on, and for as long as we’re working for this wonderful club we’ll be a family… We want to bring everyone together.”
And things like that are exactly why he’s one of the most universally liked Wednesday managers in years.