It was just a small moment, so subtle that most fans would miss it. In the seconds before kick-off on Saturday, after giving high five and punching the mascots running off the field, Darren Moore stood at the edge of the technical area and applauded together hi Sheffield Wednesdayringing Hillsborough. The manager’s preparation was complete, the team talk was complete, and all that was left was to add another roaring applause to the noise.

Moore’s pre-match ritual is a sign of a manager embracing his club and taking his fanbase on a journey. It’s been 25 years mostly downhill since Wednesday’s Premier League peak and two years after the most disastrous season in their history with four managers, a points cut, a transfer embargo and a devastating relegation on the last day. Now Moore took them to the top First DivisionWith a 21 game unbeaten streak, he’s the best form of any league club in the country.

Witnessing the 1-0 win over Peterborough on Saturday was knowing something was developing in South Yorkshire. Hillsborough remains special for the thousands of Owls fans who flock to this metal and concrete collection between homes, a place where rust clings to railings and paint walls have long left their bunkers. Average 25,000 spectators this season, more than 20 Championship clubs and more than four Premier League sides. The ‘sleeping giant’ is a cliché that can easily be applied, except that the giant wiggles under Moore.

A remarkable comeback in many ways. Less than two years ago, Moore was struggling to survive in the hospital due to Covid-19. He took breaths for a week while battling pneumonia and pleurisy and returned to the bunker only on the final day of his relegation clash with Derby when he was sent to the First Division in a crazy 3-3 draw on Wednesday.

It was a bit of a fall as we came very close to reaching the Premier League in the 2016 Championship playoff final. Still, some at the club feel that relegation to the Premier League, which at the time felt like falling into the abyss, was a necessary step. It forced Wednesday to drop a bloated payroll, leaving Thai owner Dejphon Chansiri little choice but to trust Moore and his recruiting team to rebuild a shambles team of too many different managers.

Moore has been nearly flawless for months with award-winning bold decisions on the field. Take their goalkeeper: David Stockdale played the first episode of the season before Moore decided to choose Sheffield’s Cameron Dawson to play against Oxford United because of his reputation for keeping long-range shots. It went well and Dawson saved a late penalty to keep the three points. He held his ground and has since conceded just five goals in 19 league games.

Moore’s 3-5-2 system has proven nearly insurmountable – no team in the Football League has conceded fewer than 22 goals and his 20 goals are already a historic club record with 13 more games to play. Peterborough enjoyed the ball on Saturday and used the spaces around Wednesday’s midfield trio; however, despite all their positive play, they could not collect a single shot on goal.

His proclivity to win the aerial challenges was similar to N’Golo Kante’s love of fighting or Erling Haaland’s goal instinct, and the loan of Aden Flint, a seasoned leader in the defensive centre, was inspired, and Flint closed the airspace for 90 minutes on Saturday. .

Wednesday’s halftime appearance was not worthy of the league leaders, except for a clever corner routine that resulted in a shaken crossbar. But Moore found a way to motivate at halftime and they came back with a different team and smothered Peterborough with waves of attacks until they gave up.

Jaden Brown celebrates after playing a part in Wednesday’s goal


At the center of it all was captain Barry Bannan, an actor who combined deft touch with the defensive urgency of a man fleeing a hornet swarm. Bannan gives the opponent no time and yet creates his own time, routinely spotting the obvious pass and just one hit lingering before passing a line-breaking ball that no one else has seen.

Now in his ninth year on Wednesday, Bannan appears to have made it his personal mission to bring them back to the upper echelons of the Championship. He created this winning goal with a perfectly weighted pass, providing a moment of genius by picking an opponent and smashing the ball over his head before, in a single move, Lee Gregory slammed a diagonal pass into his path.

At the touchline, Moore was a painting of stillness, as if he had seen this episode before, as opposed to limbs dangling in the opposite bunker. While it also helps to be a winning manager, it is a style that wins fans. “Moore has done a fantastic job of rebuilding the fans’ relationship with the team,” says Tom Scott of the Sheffield Wednesday Supporters’ Trust, which was founded in response to the crisis that resulted in a points cut three years ago. “The most important thing for us right now is to keep it.”

Moore and Chansiri talk almost daily, whether the owner is in his office in Hillsborough or at his home in Bangkok, where he made a fortune as a tuna boss. Chansiri supported Moore in the transfer market, built a roster without huge fees, and added one or two targeted credits instead of an army of temporary players that had to be replaced each season.

Chansiri learned on the job after major financial mistakes that led to his relegation, and staff within the club describe him as someone who is extremely passionate about the football project. His media profile slowly faded into the background after some controversial outbursts, which most fans thought was the best. “To brag, Chansiri allowed Moore to sign any player she wanted,” Scott says. “We now have a much more pragmatic approach to staffing.”

For the first time in several years, Wednesday fans have the core ingredient of all football clubs: hope. I hope this club rises again. Whether it’s two years or 12 years, we hope their place in the Premier League still awaits them. And more importantly, the hope of winning major league titles at any level since 1959. at the top of the league in recent weeks”. For an entire generation of Wednesday fans, it’s the first time they’ve said these words.