Last Night

Didn’t win.
Actually unlucky to lose.
Tactically very sound.
Defended well.
And a couple of… let’s say… “convenient” decisions for the opposition:

Lol. Diplomacy with sarcasm. I love it.
Someone doesn’t want to get himself into trouble on his first day back.

But he’s right, because, for example, while we all love a good tackle, that Darwin Nunez scissor action on Jayden Bogle was clearly a foul in the modern era. And by “the modern era”, I mean last night.
On a muddy pitch with jumpers for goalposts and clodhopper Mitre boots back in 1986? Sure. Fantastic.
But there are a lot of things you could do then that you simply can’t do now. And that was certainly one of them.

That said, we were playing a good side with some quality players. And Joe Gomez. It’s always a bit of a wake-up call to the reality of the other world in the Premier League when the opposition bring on a €45m Dutch signing to replace their other €45m Dutch signing because they needed some extra cover for their defence for the last five minutes, but for once this season, we punched above our weight and there were plenty of positives too. It was good to see a return of some passion and some drive. The confidence was clearly still missing: when you have young strikers who have proven that they can score goals and they’re not shooting, well, we know why that is. But a few more of those performances, a goal or two, and maybe it’ll return.

We move away from football for a short while now, ahead of the next round of fixtures which are [checks notes] a whole 48 hours away. I do so hope that everyone is happy with that situation.

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.

Different approach

After the disaster that was yesterday: least said, soonest mended, although there are a couple of points that need to be made. Namely that while it was a great effort, it’s the W-D-L and Pts* columns that matter, because there is no “Played against a Top 6 team and almost got something from the game” column, and there never has been.

And worth saying that there is – and there never will be – any excuse for the racist abuse and threats against his family that our goalkeeper has had to face from the Spurs keyboard warriors online. Utterly disgusting. I will enjoy every moment of those “fans” being found and banned for life (noting that much of the stuff I saw came from overseas, especially SE Asia).

Anyway, in a 24 hour break from real sport, I’m going to head to a warehouse in Retreat (yep, seriously), and watch South Africa’s rugby union team play out what should be a really tight and competitive game against Romania.

Rugby is a big deal in SA, and I’m not sure that the locals understand quite how much it isn’t a big deal in other countries, like Romania. Even less so (I’m guessing) in Moldova, who one local estate agent seems to think are taking on the Springboks in Bordeaux this afternoon.

(I know Moldova isn’t far away from Romania. But I know it’s not Romania, too.)

Anyway. Whoever they’re playing. Let’s give this a go, and then I can get back for some proper sport from Liverpool and Spain a bit later on.

* incidentally, our PTSD column will be huge after yesterday