Day 267 – A minor rule change

After last night’s match against Manchester United, where we lost by the odd goal, but probably deserved to get something out of the game, I’m planning to write to the FA today to ask for a slight rule change regarding the awarding of points.

Under my proposed system, a win would be worth 3 points (no change), a draw would be worth 1 point (no change), but a third category: “lost by the odd goal, but probably deserved to get something out of the game” would be added, worth, let’s say, a couple of points.

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and if this was instituted and backdated to the beginning of the season, we’d be in the Champions League places now.

Please join my campaign.

A much better performance from us last night: you know you’ve got teams worried when – even though you’ve made the worst start to a top flight season EVER and lost eight league games in a row for the first time EVER – the billion pound teams are getting players booked for time-wasting so that they can scrape a win.

Onward and upward. Possibly.

Day 262 – What else is there to do?

United lose again. A lacklustre performance exacerbated by a buoyant Southampton team and – as their second goal (which took three deflections off defenders, wholly wrong-footing our keeper) demonstrated – the curse which has clearly been placed upon the team.

It’s an almost laughably bad situation, the only positive being that it can’t really get any worse right now. As Yazz used to tell us – and as they used to play at the Lane after every defeat in the early 90s – The Only Way Is Up:

We’ve been broken down
To the lowest turn
Bein’ on the bottom line
Sure ain’t no fun

Never a truer word was spoken. Or sung.

Each defeat now makes up a smaller percentage of the overall misery, and so it doesn’t hurt quite as much as before. Equally, it’ll make our inevitable escape from disaster even more impressive, so it’s not the end of the world. Just yet.

And there’s always next week to get our first win: a matchup against [checks notes] er… Manchester United.

Right.

On a more serious note, at least there’s no panic setting in, and our owner is clear in his support for the manager:

“I think he is the best manager to take us out of this current situation. If he was not our manager I would employ him. And if the worst comes to the worst he’ll be the manager to take us back.”

Well said.

I can’t affect the fortunes of the team at the moment. It’s always been difficult to do that from 6000 miles… away. And so I’m going to light the braai and open a beer.

What else is there to do?

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.