Alan Biggs: Short game will benefit in long term

Alan Biggs Telegraph

Alan Biggs Telegraph

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Sometimes you’ve got to like it or lump it. I sympathise with Sheffield United fans for having to do either of those things.

Right now their team is not lumping it and they are still not liking it. Tippy-tappy is a description doing the rounds. Fair or not, it has been a tentative start under a new regime.

Yes, it’s below par for the course - but not by much in my opinion. These teething troubles for a new manager cutting his teeth are entirely predictable and not to be over-reacted to.

This is precisely what the Blades signed up for when they sacked Danny Wilson without knowing whether or not he would take them up last season. Sorry to keep harking back to a highly questionable decision but from that point, barring promotion, United were charting a choppy new course.

Last season’s squad was found wanting. Now, in a much more competitive and demanding League One, it does not look any stronger and, without Kevin McDonald, is arguably weaker for all the recruitment of six new players.

This is not to carp. It is merely to underline that the eventual turnaround, under David Weir or any other manager, will take time; more than one season from the early signs of the current one.

Recognition of that, given by chief executive Julian Winter on these pages recently, is hugely important.

It keeps a check on expectations.

Yes, promotion is desired.

It cannot come quickly enough at a club with attendances still pushing 20,000.

Take a bow, Blades fans. There is a negative element, of course, but the majority seem to accept the reality of the position and be prepared to maintain their backing.

I wish I could offer more encouragement to those so deserving of it. I can’t.

Even a top six spot looked a fairly demanding target from the off. That said, it is reasonable to expect some sort of challenge this season, as Winter also indicated.

This is where the bar is set and the challenge for Weir, having to learn quickly, is to try to spark some of the much needed optimism that those looking in from outside are struggling to find.

I hope he is steadfast in his beliefs - because route one is no longer the way ahead in football – and that he finds the same quality in all of those around him.

Nothing new needing two...

How many clubs are only two players away from a very good team? Just a playmaker and a goalscorer. That’s all.

Just? Only? As Ron Atkinson, who has known finer moments in his career than being a contestant on Big Brother, would say: “Are you sure?”

The problem for Atkinson’s former club is that there aren’t many teams around who COULDN’T use a ball-player and a free-scoring striker. Sheffield Wednesday’s current malaise is all too familiar; easy to diagnose and difficult to cure.

Let’s put it another way. Suppose Dave Jones was saying something like this: “We’re only a couple of players short... we just need a right back and somebody to sit in the centre of midfield.” If that was the case, he wouldn’t be talking about the problem, he’d have solved it.

It’s never that way, is it? No, it’s always about the glamour positions, the players with the extra talent who make the big difference.

They are the ones everybody wants and, of course, they are the most expensive.

So there is no big mystery here and no quick fix, either. Look across the city at Sheffield United. What are the types of player David Weir is desperately seeking? Why, a creator and a goalscorer. Coincidence? Certainly not. There isn’t much you can’t solve with matchwinners.

Ultimately, if you haven’t got the cash to buy (and neither of the city clubs is well endowed in that department), there is only one solution – the loaning, at not inconsiderable expense, of surplus Premier League quality.

Usually, this is young and of the unproven variety. So watch out for that sort of deal in the approach to Monday’s fabricated deadline.

It’s phoney because as this window closes another will shortly open, then another and another.

Simpler all round to smash the windows altogether but then I suppose we’d be able to see too far into the future.

Can’t have that!

Will Saints be marching in?

Saw some frowns among club scouts at Barnsley on Tuesday with Billy Sharp omitted from Southampton’s second string. But you can bet they – including the Owls Paul Wilkinson - returned with rave reviews of Saints’ youngsters after their 5-1 victory. Loan bids for the likes of Lloyd Isgrove and Emmanuel Mayuka?