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Darren Moore interview: West Brom favourite ready for new challenge after eye-opening Kenya trip
Moore is helping to raise money for the Inspire Afrika charity
Last Updated: 15/06/19 9:08am
Darren Moore was sacked by West Brom despite being fourth in the Championship. Here, in conversation with Adam Bate, he opens up on that disappointment and the Kenya trip that helped him overcome it. Now he wants to return to management better than before.
When Darren Moore was sacked by West Brom in March, it did not take him too long to put the setback into perspective. A trip to Kenya with the Inspire Afrika charity saw to that.
"There were a group of 50 or 60 children living on this rubbish heap and there was a school in the middle of it," he tells Sky Sports.
"I have seen poverty but not to that level. It was devastating but the joy and happiness on the children's faces was unbelievable. Maybe they don't know any different and it is normal but it shouldn't be normal. These children cannot even fathom the world that we live in.
"For me, it was the perfect time to go. Straight away, it just put everything into perspective.
"Yes, I had been sacked but then you see the faces of those children and consider what they are dealing with in their day-to-day lives. Any disappointment quickly went away."
Moore has spent much of his time since thinking about those children. He is speaking at Old Hill Cricket Club in the Black Country, fresh from the latest meeting with Sallyanne Wright, co-founder of the Inspire Afrika charity. They are planning a fundraiser at the club in July.
"We need to engage the community here to impact their lives there," he explains.
The 45 year old is taking a hands-on approach, discussing details with the band that will play on the night. He is determined that all will run smoothly and money will be raised.
Ever the manager.
There could be a follow-up trip to Kenya later this summer but the hope is Moore will be back in work by then. "I am keeping myself busy," he says and it quickly becomes clear that this is an understatement.
As well as the charity commitments, Moore has spent time behind the scenes at Tottenham - "a wonderful setup" - and was with Paul Tisdale's MK Dons as they prepared for their crunch game with Mansfield on the final day of the season. He is doing his LMA diploma and is looking forward to going to St George's Park to present to the UEFA Pro Licence holders.
"It is about educating myself and putting myself in different situations," says Moore. "I am a bit like a sponge, I like to absorb things. That's how you learn and that's how you improve. You can always discover different little things so it can be an exciting time. But I am ready to go again now. I want to get back out there on the front line."
There was a furore when Moore was sacked by West Brom. He had taken over a team that had lost nine in a row and were already doomed to relegation but wins against Manchester United and Tottenham soon followed and there was a draw against Liverpool in there too.
Moore galvanised the club, negotiating a messy summer in which his assistant manager did not arrive until August. He had West Brom up in fourth in March. It was still not enough.
The support from the wider public has been a comfort. Overwhelming, even. Moore shares tales of taxi-drivers up and down the country wishing him well. Even fans of rival clubs have backed him. "It has been a good healing process for me because the recognition was there," he says. "I haven't had to say much because people have been doing the talking for me."
He remains popular at West Brom too. The relative struggles of Stoke and Swansea after suffering relegation were noted. They know that their club could have crumbled.
But there were also some grumbles. Albion were the second highest scorers in the Championship under Moore but their defensive record was not so good. Not everyone at The Hawthorns was happy but he believes the context is significant.
The club was at rock bottom, lower than a snake's belly in terms of confidence.
"I knew what the club needed," he explains.
"They needed attacking football. The club was at rock bottom, lower than a snake's belly in terms of confidence. And I am sure I will never have a summer like that in terms of the work involved in having to realign the club. We had to settle everything down and prepare for a tough Championship campaign. That was so difficult to do but we did it.
"The mentality had to change and anyone that knows football knows that to change the mentality of a group takes time. We didn't have that time but we still managed to do it.
"So much hard work had gone into it and it's one of the hardest things to do for a team to drop out of the Premier League and bounce straight back. We were in with a chance. When I look at West Brom when I joined and West Brom when I left, I know that I made it better."
Typically, Moore was desperate for the club to succeed even after his departure. The play-off semi-final defeat to Aston Villa hit him hard. He wanted promotion. "I could have shared in that moment. That's how I looked at it. It was a negative but you turn it into a positive."
It is a mentality that has served Moore well and his enthusiasm is infectious over the course of a wide-ranging conversation that takes in his passion for youth development and football overseas. But the harsh realities of football management will surely test his resolve.
There is a notorious statistic quoted in football circles that almost half of all first-time managers never do get that second job. Moore's record really should spare him such a fate.
His excellent win percentage of 48 already includes victories over Jose Mourinho, Mauricio Pochettino and Rafa Benitez, a quartet of Premier League newcomers in Daniel Farke, Chris Wilder, Dean Smith and Graham Potter, as well as the celebrated Marcelo Bielsa.
Yet, more than three months on from his West Brom exit, the wait for that next challenge goes on. "The competition is fierce out there, I know that," he says. "I just hope that because of the good job I did at West Brom, I am considered a realistic candidate. I know that if the opportunity comes, the experiences I have had will serve me well."
Kenya is calling but maybe it is football's decision-makers who should be making the call to Darren Moore.