Last day

The last day of an absolutely terrible football season (for Sheffield United, at least). We’ve broken all the wrong records, and it’s been pretty depressing to watch since before day one.

Mismanagement from the board, tactical naivety, a plethora of individual errors, a fragile mentality, a million injuries, a decent slice of bad luck, disappointing loanees, NOT ENOUGH MONEY, and some iffy refereeing decisions… it’s just all added up.

But we are in the Premier League. The best league in the world. And that’s worth remembering.

Because at the end of it all, I have to remind myself that we’re playing teams who can spend a billion pounds or more on the best players in the world. And while that certainly isn’t an excuse for a lot of what we’ve been put through this season, it certainly is a reason for some of it.

A lot of fans are saying that they’re looking forward to being in the Championship again, without the prima donnas and the piles of cash that rules the roost. Bigger fish in smaller pond and all that.
Without VAR too, but I’m always interested to understand how people have forgotten about the pre-VAR days when we complained about the referees and not the technology. Just watching the League Two play off final right now, and the ref made a howler with a penalty decision which would have changed the direction of the match (and likely the winner), and VAR saved the day. We’ll have to accept that sort of thing again, and we’ll be happy about it, right? Right.

More personally, the return to the Championship is also going to mean that I have to spend shedloads of GBPs on a streaming package so I can watch the games. And that’s not going to be pretty in ZARs, especially after the 29th.

Anyway. Last day. Last game. Last chance for a bit of pride. Not much else to play for, nothing matters, so the pressure is off, right?

My stress levels with still be in the high nineties at 5pm. It always matters…

It’s back…

Indeed. The Premier League starts tonight. Manchester City at Burnley, no less. Eww.

And so the rules (which, I will remind you, I didn’t write) say that I must put this on the blog.

I even brought this out earlier.

Further to that, the rule which I did write, says that I must remind everyone that this video was shot in Piketberg. Piketberg is also known for… er… being on the N7 between Malmesbury and Citrusdal.

That’s about it.

But onto more important matters:
Of course, this season, the Mighty Red And White Wizards from Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane are also in the Premier League.

So, some sort of prediction seems appropriate.

Well, given that we’ve known for almost 4 months that we were going to be starting in the Premier League this weekend, it’s been a pretty disastrous pre-season, and an especially chaotic last fortnight. We’ve sold several of our best players (yes, including Sander, who I foolishly referenced in that last post):

We don’t have many players, we do have a lot of injuries, and we also have at least one visa issue, thus it looks like some of our team, and even more of our much-depleted bench will be made up of academy players. Compare and contrast with the big boys spending literally hundreds of millions of pounds throughout the summer, and it feels like we’re scratching around in the dirt for whatever we can find.

It’s going to be a very long, very hard season. So I’ll absolutely bite your hand off for 17th position or above – and therefore survival – and the chance to go again next season.

On our side, we have the best fans in the country, we have a formidable stadium to visit, we have some incredible team spirit, and we have a local, down-to-earth manager who understands the club, the limitations facing him, and the importance of the team’s success to the fanbase. I can’t wait for our first win (it took a horribly long while last time), but I’ll fully understand when we struggle, and I’ll continue to support wholeheartedly as long as there is 100% effort from the players.

You can’t ask for more.

We’re a very small fish in a very big pond, but it’s quite literally the best pond in the world to be in.
We worked damn hard to get promotion last season and we had some great times getting it.
This is what we wanted*. We shouldn’t forget that at any point this time around.

Never stop supporting. Never stop believing.


* although perhaps not quite as we wanted it.

Up!

What a night under the lights at Bramall Lane! An expectant sell-out crowd. An opposition set up to defend and frustrate. A tense first half. And then, through patience and persistence, with a touch of Premier League quality, the breakthrough. And from that moment on, nothing ever looked to be in doubt.

The party atmosphere was augmented by a second goal 15 minutes from the end, and after that, it was just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s as we cruised to a victory and promotion back to the Premier League.

And then one big party for the 30,000 fans in the ground. I would have loved to have been there. There were a few tears last night and actually some mixed emotions. Sure: joy, relief, pride, but also a tinge of sadness, as well. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s missing out on these sort of shared moments that make me most homesick, even though I’ve been here for almost 20 years now.

But, what a night. What a team. What a club.

The Premier League is going to be a massive challenge – more so than maybe ever before – but with that combination of youth, experience, team spirit and those fans, I know we’ll give it our best shot.

Day 505 – 505

Day 505 of lockdown. I’ve been doing just about as much as I can around the house, and now I’m feeling it.

Time then, if I’m going to have anything at all left for watching the first Premier League match of the new season this evening, for a really lazy blog post.

I’ve always loved the way this track warms up as it progresses.

But the truth is, even having dropped this from the Sheffield legends in here, I’m going to be asleep before kick off tonight.

More tomorrow.

Day 423 – End of the season

Yep. The end of another weird, horrible, broken football season. And we all know that it didn’t go well.
More defeats than in any other campaign in our illustrious 132 year history, relegated long before today’s well-deserved victory over lowly, lucky Burnley. It’s interesting (and promising) to note that we put in a great performance and a decent win today in front of an actual crowd. That lockdown restriction has hurt us more than most.

But, with such a terrible start to the season, there was some weird degree of acceptance early on (this post was a huge hit with United fans), and suddenly, even the small positives became highlights and moments to remember. Like that first win over Newcastle, the hard-fought victory over Aston Villa, and – of course – the absolutely incredible, near unbelievable 2-1 away at Old Trafford.

I was quite emotional that evening. And it was a big win: the first ever Premier League win by a Yorkshire club at Old Trafford. At the 36th attempt, nogal. And ManU went on to put 9 past Southampton there the following week.

Oh yes, and the little fact that we weren’t the only Sheffield team to get relegated this season. Shame.

Much of the time, we didn’t play badly. Stuff just didn’t click: we lost just by a single goal on an incredible 17 occasions. But the Premier League is an unforgiving place, and so the Blades drop to the Championship, which means that I won’t get to watch them anywhere near as much next season. And that’s sad. But hopefully, the fans will be back at Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane, and that will be the catalyst to get us straight back up.

Come fill me again…