A New(ish) Dawn

All change in Sheffield S2:

Yes. Thank you, Hecky.
Certainly landing comfortably within the Top Four of United managers in my lifetime: Warnock, Bassett, Wilder and now Heckingbottom.

And as one door closes:

I leave Sheffield United after three and a half years with many great memories created by many great people. 

I begin by thanking Prince Abdullah and the Board for entrusting me with managing such a special club. The challenges and successes have made for such a special couple of years, and it has been an honour to lead the team during this period. 

To the staff at Bramall Lane and in the Academy, your roles can never be underestimated or undervalued. You are the heartbeat of the club and will continue to be, regardless of who is in charge. Thank you. 

To all First Team staff at Shirecliffe, thank you for helping to create a fantastic place to come to work. It has been a joy! Your attitude and professionalism has helped us to navigate some potentially tricky moments and has kept us moving forwards, no matter what. 

To the players, those who have left, those who I have known a long time and those who I wish to have known longer, thank you. Working with you all is the best part of the job. The focus and spirit that you demonstrated allowed us to achieve special things. Our history-making season in the face of adversity, born out of a heart-breaking and emotional loss in the play-offs the season before, will forever be my highlight. A record 91 Championship points and FA Cup Semi-Final does not begin to tell the story. Well done and I hope to catch up with you all soon.

Finally, a message to the fans. Thank you for your support. You are what made the journey so special and many of my fondest memories are of the players and fans celebrating our victories together. Bramall Lane on a match day will always hold a special place in my heart. I loved it! When the dust settles, that is what will bring me back. I hope to catch up with many of you then. In the meantime, keep supporting your team.

Another door opens:

Yep. It’s the return of Chris Wilder to United (accompanied on the club’s social media by some Kasabian), and a re-baptism of fire with Liverpool visiting just 30 hours after his arrival.

If I seemed sceptical about switching managers in this post, it’s because I am. There are far bigger problems at Sheffield United than the manager. But it seems unlikely that the axe was ever going to fall on anyone of a higher pay grade.

And that’s not the fault of the manager (either of them) or the players.

And so, yes. We will continue to support the team and the manager and we will expect nothing less than 100% effort every game, no matter the position the team is in or the state of play on the pitch.
No right-thinking fan was ever expecting us to bring the Premier League trophy back to Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane this season, but equally, no fan deserves to watch players not giving their all for 90+ minutes, each and every game.

Let’s begin (again) tonight.

Deckchair rearrangement imminent

As I write, Fabrizio Romano had tweeted this out over 5 hours ago.

And while at least the first paragraph is likely to be true, we’ve heard precisely de nada, dololo and nowt from the club so far. So why would I believe the second bit if the first bit does seem to have been down to some Italian gun-jumping?
Get the tweet out first, worry about the accuracy later. Celebrate your hits, ignore your misses.

Either way, with things clearly not working at the club at the moment, something has to change. But while I can see that Heckingbottom has potentially “lost the dressing room”, I can’t see that being the only problem we face at the moment. I think we’re all aware that whoever is managing the team, our issues will remain in the higher echelons of the business.

But hey, let’s ignore the gaping hole in the bow and the screams of the terrified passengers, and make sure that the deckchairs are all lined up nicely for absolutely the best view as we sink.

A winner

A good afternoon or at the newly refurbished and revamped Kenilworth Racecourse, including a win for everyone’s favourite horse* in his biggest race yet.

Many jubilant scenes in the sunshine in the new Winner’s Circle. You may even spot someone you know in there.

* especially those who placed bets on him. (It me!)

Warning lights

This was me this morning (well, apart from the “really fast” bit), waking up after my first gym session in 3 weeks.

But yesterday went well, and so I did the same in the heat again this morning in an attempt to reinforce some sort of dominance over what is left of my musculature. Managing the post-Covid tachycardia carefully (several emergency phone calls would have been made if I hadn’t switched that feature on my watch off), I eventually managed a few decent uphill kilometres on the static bike and several (or more) weights. And then into the pool for a desperately needed cool down on what is definitely the hottest day of the summer season thus far.

And it all feels ok. A bit hurty, but good hurty, rather than damaged hurty. Tomorrow morning will be another test, but I’m pleasantly surprised at how well things have gone thus far.

Football next Tuesday is the aim, but that seems quite a long way off at the moment.
Still – let’s see. Onward and upward.


Spotted this on Facebook earlier, and never have I identified with anything quite so much.

Memories of Mr Dalton and Mr “Mental” Mantle came flooding back straight away.

Ankle deep in claggy mud on the top field. The slap as the ball hit your cold, wet thigh, and the peach and purple pattern it immediately left behind.

Legally assaulting an opponent by belting the ball directly at them was a completely acceptable – and oft used – tactic. And when faced with the other side weaponising the Mouldmaster, it was imperative that you didn’t back down or “nesh” the challenge. Taking the hit and then carrying on sent a very powerful message. Even if you were weeping internally.

Which you were.

30-something years on, and just the sight of that ball has got my inner thigh tingling.

And not in a good way.