Always Leave Them Wanting Moore: Why Wednesday's Manager Change Makes Some Sense

The Owls announced on Monday that Darren Moore had left the club
12:00, 20 Jun 2023

It’s never dull at Sheffield Wednesday. Remember that time they appointed Steve Bruce as manager but gave him a month off to go on holiday before starting work? Or the time, 18 games later when he jumped ship for Newcastle United on the eve of the new season?

Then there was that season when they sacked manager Garry Monk, replaced him with Tony Pulis, sacked him after 10 games, left Neil Thompson in caretaker charge for two months, then finally appointed Darren Moore with just 14 matches remaining and a relegation battle to negotiate, only for the new boss to contract Covid-19 and then pneumonia which left him fighting for his life in the weeks leading to the club’s demotion from the Championship.

It seemed there was finally some stability over the past two years. Moore had taken well to the task of building a squad to gain promotion, reaching the League One play-offs in 2021-22 and then leading the Owls to a 96-point haul 12 months later. The fact that it wasn’t enough to gain an automatic place in the second tier was an anomaly in English football history, and when they were 4-0 down after the first leg of the play-off clash with Peterborough United there were huge questions being asked.


Yet their epic second-leg turnaround and subsequent 1-0 win in the final against Barnsley seemed to have put Wednesday on an even keel heading into the new Championship season. Then they went and announced on Monday night that Moore was leaving the club by mutual consent.

The Sheffield Star has reported on Tuesday morning that differences of opinion between Moore and chairman Dejphon Chansiri regarding the extent of squad changes needed ahead of the new campaign led to the split, but whatever the truth of it this was a decision which shocked many in the fan base.

Was it the right decision? Well, it’s hard to say. Moore had achieved what had been asked of him and as such had earned the opportunity to lead the club in the second tier. But there were also misgivings amongst supporters which suggested that an indifferent start to 2023-24 would have led to a lobbying for the 49-year-old to be removed from his position.

For many, the style of play has been unconvincing, the dallying over in-game changes costly. Wednesday were five points clear of third-placed Ipswich Town with two games in hand in March, sitting pretty at the top of the table. By mid-April they were third and heading for the play-offs, with defeats to Forest Green Rovers and Burton Albion, plus draws with Cheltenham Town, Oxford United and Lincoln City, showing up the squad as being thinner than previously claimed and Moore as being less able to manipulate a game than many had thought. His inability to hold an audience in press interviews also did him no favours.

The fact that he pulled promotion out of the bag in the most unlikely of circumstances means Moore was suddenly elevated to legendary status in S6. That 5-1 second-leg win against Peterborough will go down forever as one of the great Hillsborough nights, and Moore’s part in that will be preserved in history thanks to the scenes recorded in the dressing room afterwards, with skipper Barry Bannan going out of his way to express the huge role the manager had played in convincing everyone involved that a turnaround was possible.

But while he seemed to have the full support of the playing squad, there was always a fear that an indifferent spell in the Championship would bring about a sour ending. Carlos Carvalhal, who took the Owls to within 90 minutes of the Premier League in 2016, became a frustrated and frustrating presence in the 12 months that followed and by the time of his sacking in December ’17 he had been the instigator of increasingly unhinged press conferences.

Moore is far more level-headed than the Portuguese, rightly being identified as one of the calmest, coolest and most likeable people in the game. But this feels like the best way to go out. Had he stuck around, the foibles which had the #MooreOut brigade incensed at various times over the last 24 months would have become a stick to beat him with once more. Wins were never so far away in League One that he couldn’t ride the storm a little, but would the same be true a division higher?

Instead, he goes out on the highest of highs. He has left Wednesday fans wanting more, and that is surely the best way to leave. Now the club, and particularly Chansiri, have a big job to do with no manager or recruitment staff and less than seven weeks to go until the start of the season. But maybe it's better that change happens now with a fond farewell rather than in November complete with ire and a slight taste of bitterness.

Darren Moore leaves Sheffield Wednesday a legend. It is now up to the chairman to make the most of his legacy.


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