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…

Day 248 – Another defeat

United lost again last night and the situation is looking rather grim.
This season is going to be a slog.

So I thought I’d clear my mind a little by putting some thoughts on here.

Firstly, there’s no point in my reading any more match reports. In fact, if you’re a match reporter, you might as well get them all written up now. Save yourself some time in the long run. Because last night was exactly the same again:

– Unlucky to lose.
– Deserved at least a point.
– Just couldn’t take their chances.
– A great performance by the opposition keeper.

You just need look at the stats:
23 crosses, 21 shots – 18 of them inside the box – 17 chances, 81% pass completion…
to see that there just needs to be a small change in our luck and we’ll be on our way.

Those are the numbers of a top performing team. And we are performing well – the ball just won’t go into the net. And sadly, that’s the stat that matters. It’s no wonder Chris Wilder is “scratching his head”. We all are.

We’re missing the crowds. Sure, so are all the teams, but a packed Bramall Lane gives us an extra two men. We’ve known that for a long while. I think we miss that more than most.

We’ve had some really bad luck: look at Haller’s goal for West Ham last week, for example. A thunderbolt of note, sure, but look more closely at how the ball got to him via an intricate series of fortuitous rebounds, and you soon realise that in any other season, it simply wouldn’t have been there for him to hit.

We’ve had some horrible decisions go against us:

(clearly not a foul)

And then that John Egan red card in Birmingham. Another Villa Park travesty.

We’ve got injuries to key players. Those are all BT Sport and Jurgen Klopp’s fault, obviously.

Yesterday, two of our infamous back five were unavailable again (the first matches that Enda Stevens has missed since September 2018!!) and even one of our replacements was injured. We can’t afford to buy top internationals six-deep like the big clubs. And yes, it would have been nice to bring a few more players on, but apparently you make a rod for your own back sometimes.

Sure. That’s exactly how the decision was made, Jurgen. That’s how all the decisions are made: The Premier League and Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder.

Sir Jurgen is fast becoming the Donald Trump of the Premier League, deposing Sir Alex and then Sir Jose. All fun and smiles until something doesn’t go his way, then suddenly it’s Mr Mardy Bum. (Sorry, TA – but my view on this isn’t new to you.)

But I digress. Often.

There’s no need for a change of manager. I don’t think that would make any difference. Unless it’s actually him that’s cursed (because someone around Bramall Lane clearly is). He’s doing a great job.
And there’s actually no need for panic. We’re good enough to get out of this and we just need that one break to get us on our way. How that happens, I don’t know. But yes, it really does need to happen fairly soon.

I’ve been a United fan all my life: forty[redacted] years. I’ve seen some wonderful highs (not least last season) and some desperate lows – I will never overlook the fact that I’ve seen us relegated to Division 4. But I don’t ever remember seeing a run like this. Especially not when the belief is clearly still there, the performances are still really good and the effort is almost tangible – yet the results just won’t go our way. One or two games would be “just one of those things” that happens to all clubs. But ten games in a row? It’s bizarre.

I’m at peace with the situation now. That’s not to say that I’m in any way happy about it.
But while the 100% effort is there – and it clearly is – I’m not going to complain. The lads are doing their best and that’s all we’ve ever asked from any Blades team.
This is the Premier League: this is the exactly the league we want to be in. We’re playing the best teams in the land – some of the best teams in the world – and we’re just, just off the pace.

I still believe. And so should you.

Day 64 – There goes the weekends

With apologies to Eminem:

Guess who’s back, back again
Football’s back, tell a friend…

Yep:

I won’t lie, I am a bit torn over the decision to restart the Premier League. Sure, I want to watch the action, but I’m not sure it’s the best idea from a safety point of view, and I just hope that it doesn’t backfire for any of the players or backroom staff involved.

But – deep breath – the decision has been made and we go into our first game away at Aston Villa with (apparently, at least) 7 Ollie McBurnies up front.

It’s a bold, attacking line-up. Come on you Red And White WIZZZZZZZAAAAARDS!