Olly writes his latest for Vital Football following Friday’s Sky showing of our home defeat Vs WBA.
I haven’t been able to put an article together for a couple of weeks with work commitments being a bit busy at the moment. We’ve won two and lost two of our last four games, and having watched us against Leeds, at the beginning of December on Sky, I wasn’t sure what the problem was at first.
I know that CW has been chopping the starting eleven around a little, and had Sharp on the bench along with Duffy for a couple of outings, but both were restored for the WBA match, and rightly so. I realize there’s competition for starting places in our team, but Sharp brings the Captain’s voice to the squad and we seem to perform a lot better when he’s starting. He’s a commanding figure as the Captain of the side, being a Sheffield lad coupled with the fact he’s well-experienced shows that. Duffy is playing the best football of his career and is flourishing under CW at BDTBL, I have seen him fluff a couple of passes and chances in recent games, but he only needs to provide one bit of brilliance in a match that will affect the outcome and get the opposition on the back foot.
Anyway, I watched the Leeds match on board the ship I’m on via British Forces TV and it’s probably my fault we lost as I was sat with a Leeds fan for that match. We did really well in that game and even though Washington hit the bar in the late stages, and the fluffed clearance from Henderson, I think we should have come away with a draw from that game. I put it down to the Leeds fan jinxing that game!
We had good attacking football though, that’s what I’ve become used to since CW took over the running of United, and it’s really good to watch week in and week out, however, I think the wheels came off against WBA last Friday. Yes, two late strikes away at Reading gave us the points there, but that was a bit of a reshuffle of the team, and we had to rely on the introduction of Sharp in the second half to grab the points from that game.
The game Vs WBA started off well and we were all over them for the first 35 minutes, with McGoldrick netting the opener for us. We seemed to get pinned back after that and certainly in the second half we seemed to take the foot off the pedal and get ourselves pinned all the way back. I was disappointed with what I saw in the second half, bearing in mind how many chances we had in the first half, we just couldn’t seem to put the ball in the back of the onion bag! I was wondering why we had ended up with the bottom of the barrel for the referee again as well. There were some very dubious decisions in that game. I though Hegazi should have been penalized for the elbow in Sharp’s face in their box. We should have come out of that one with a penalty at least, if not a red card for the offender. Unfortunately, it was dismissed by the match official.
I understand CW’s thinking when we go behind. He changes the formation and sticks more up front, as we saw last season when we lost at home to Fulham. I know he turned round to Alan Knill and said we’ll go for a 1-1-9 formation, with nine up front, and this nearly worked, we fought back only to lose 5-4 in the end. I saw this happening over the last few defeats we’ve had, sticking more attacking minded players on the pitch. For some reason though, which is baffling me, rather than giving that new young striker we’ve pulled back from Barrow on loan, a run out on Friday while we were down, he went and stuck on Johnson, who in my mind isn’t good enough at the moment. He did a pass a few matches ago, after coming on as a sub, only for us to concede straight away! I know it was very late on against West Brom that he came on and couldn’t affect the game at all in that short space of time, but I would have thought Smith would have had his debut for us at the senior level.
There’s a few players that have seemed to slack off in recent games, Stevens seems to be getting more hesitant on the ball and his crossing is getting worse. Fleck has been quiet recently as well, doesn’t seem up to his normal self, and was subbed against West Brom. Same has to be said of Norwood as well, he’s been outstanding for us this season, but seems to have had a few wayward passes in the last few games that have put our back three in trouble.
On the other hand there are players that seem to give it their all recently, but unfortunately, they are defenders. O’Connell and Basham seem to be the stalwarts of the team right now, with Duffy being the playmaker in midfield.
We need to go into the Festive period with a bit more of a tough approach to our games. Put the opposition to the sword and be more clinical in front of goal. We seem to hesitate still around the edge of the box and seem to want to try and walk the ball into the net rather than have a shot.
Anyway, it was my fault again for the WBA loss as the Leeds fan watched it with me as well, he’s barred from watching any more Blades games on telly while I’m watching it!!
I’m managing to get home for New Year for a few days this year, but reckon I’ll miss getting to the Lane as I’ve some distance to travel and won’t make the Blackburn match in time on the 29th – then we have the away game against the Pie eaters, Wigan which I won’t get to either! I think the next one I’ll get to is the Bolton game in February, so will have to pin my hopes on more televised games via British Forces Telly.
I’m looking forward to the January transfer window to see if CW has been given a bit of cash to bring in a couple of new faces, but I’m hoping we can sign a couple we have already on loan. It will be interesting reading though as he seems to say he’s looking at signing a player and then signs someone completely different!
On a more positive note, my lad’s new team, Staveley MWFC U18s seems to be having a good season so far, winning against Dronfield on Sunday with a resounding 7-0 victory. He’s still awaiting his first goal, but I’m sure he’ll get on the score sheet soon as he did well last season with Chesterfield – not bad for a Centre- back!
Anyway, Ipswich away next Saturday, hopefully, we can get back to scoring and taking the points away from the bottom team.
Olly Longden (RFA)
Sheffield United MOD/Armed Forces Supporters Branch