Blades Fans Column: Nigel Clough will stick to his guns

n'Marc McNulty -  Sheffield United
n'Marc McNulty - Sheffield United

Despite a reasonable if not an outstanding start to the season, there are still a few low-level complaints amongst Blades fans regarding what some see as the negative formation and cautious game-plan imposed by Nigel Clough, especially away from home.

The facts don’t bear this out - United’s main problem this season has been conceding, not a lack of goals - but the concerns do have some justification.

Matthew Bell

Matthew Bell

Clough’s problem (though he probably doesn’t see it as one) is that he has a couple of players who ideally would occupy the same position - Jose Baxter and Stefan Scougall. Understandably he does not like to leave either of them out, so to accommodate them both means playing Baxter on his own in attack. Baxter’s omission on Tuesday was more to do with fitness than tactics.

Clough also wants two wingers and a strong midfield. Therefore, to bring in Marc McNulty on a regular basis - as a lot of fans demand - would mean changing this plan, which Clough also doesn’t want to do. Louis Reed’s performance against Yeovil gives Clough another welcome dilemma.

There were calls at Bradford for more positive play against ten men, but on this occasion I think United played it exactly right. What I couldn’t understand, however, was playing nobody up front at the start of the second half at Chesterfield, where it was 10 v 10 and 2-0 down.

What is obvious to most observers is that United haven’t yet played at their best for more than 30 or so minutes at a time. Several times at home the first half display has been insipid and the second half electric. Clough’s biggest problem is not who to pick, but to get his team to turn it on the power more consistently.