Olly writes his latest following Saturday afternoon’s away win at QPR.
I suppose I, like many Blades fans were waiting for the announcement of the starting eleven for this afternoon’s game.
It was as many of us had hoped with Sharp, Duffy and Stearman returning to the first eleven following our last two poor games against Swansea and Boro. I thought Stearman would have replaced Egan, who had a couple of shockers in his first two outings in the hallowed red and white stripes of the best side of Sheffield, but looks to have been a solid back three with him, JOC and Stearman. It was a bit of a surprise that Baldock was dropped with Freeman being the preferred wing-back over him. I would have thought that Baldock and Freeman would have started with both in the wing-back positions and Stevens put to the bench.
You can tell that the team shakeup worked from the start, even listening as I was to BBC Radio Sheffield, there was a lot of attacking play with wing-backs going forward as they did last season. I suppose a much more organised midfield, with the omission of Lundstram, with Duffy starting instead, gave the defence a more solid and creative midfield to utilise rather than hump the ball straight upfield.
I was disappointed that we went behind in the first half, but that’s to be expected I suppose being away from the Lane and with pressure on the home side to produce after their loss in their last outing. It would have been nice to have nicked their Freeman off them as well in the transfer window, as that would’ve weakened their squad!
Keith Edwards on the commentary didn’t moan as much this afternoon, with some good points for once. Henderson kept us in the game I think, with a few decent saves pulled off to deny a QPR victory. You could tell our “normal” players made the difference though, Freeman crossing to Sharp for the equalizer was a welcome relief, as was McGoldrick’s penalty. The latter was only on one minute and drew the foul and put the three points in the onion bag for us.
I think this result alleviates some pressure from our lads and gives CW something to ponder over with the starting eleven. You can tell that Duffy is a creative midfielder, and with the absence of Coutts still, he’s got to be included alongside Fleck. It will be good to see Coutts get back into the start-up, as I reckon that midfield will be immense.
We’ll also have to see if the gaffer gets any loans in now that the window has shut. With Evans going unexpectedly to Wigan, with a permanent move in January, we are a bit light in midfield and also light up front. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for any new lads coming in. I don’t think there’s much to do with speculation though as CW hinted at Devante Cole the other year, only to end up signing Donaldson, which no-one saw coming!
We’ve Hull in the Cup mid-week, personally I’d let the Cup drift and concentrate on the League, what with our shortages etc. We don’t seem to have much choice at the moment with the starting line-up, so unless CW uses youngsters to try out for the Cup match, I’m not sure if he’ll stick with the first-team option and hope we don’t get any fatigues or injuries.
We’re back at BDTBL next Saturday for the home match against Norwich. I’m not looking forward to that as they were such a frustration and dirty team last season when we played them at the Lane, too much time wasting and rolling around with broken finger-nails! It’s going to be a busy couple of days though, as I’ve got to leg it back from Portsmouth where I have a course, get back late Friday, then off to the game on Saturday afternoon, before having to leg it home again and pick up the family to get to Donny airport for a week’s holiday abroad.
On a final note, I was listening on the Radio today and could hear our fans constantly in full voice, drowning out the home support. Our fans must be the best fans in the League, even with reduced numbers they are the best twelfth man that a team could ever want. I hope it keeps up for the rest of the season. I’ve just finished watching the Leeds match on Sky as well – when will other teams make their own songs up?!
Olly Longden (RFA)
Sheffield United MOD/Armed Forces Supporters Branch