James Shield’s Sheffield United Column: Infallibility, hysteria and myth

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It used to be a game of opinions.

Now, football commentary is all about hysteria, knee-jerk reactions and myth. Well plenty, including much of the response to Sheffield United’s defeat by Crewe Alexandra last weekend, anyway.

A result which, following back to back home victories over Port Vale and their namesakes from Scunthorpe, certainly wasn’t what Nigel Clough or anyone else associated with Bramall Lane ordered. But, despite the desperately below-par display of the home players, certainly didn’t warrant the type of delirious reaction emanating from some observers immediately after the match. Including the claim that United, under the present regime, are teetering on the brink of destruction. Despite, for all their obvious faults and failings, being fifth in the table and five points clear of eighth-placed Barnsley, who they face at Oakwell tomorrow, with the same number of fixtures left. Absolutely desperate, I know.

Okay, so entering League One’s finishing straight with play-off qualification rather than automatic promotion in their own hands was not what many envisaged for a United side which won 14 of its remaining 22 matches last term and has now reached the semi-finals of both major domestic cups, at this stage of the present campaign.

But, the fact is, that’s the situation and, like it or not, we’d better deal with it. Because a spot in the Championship is still very much up-for-grabs.

United’s squad is performing imperfectly. Results illustrate that and there are several issues, not least a porous defence and some instances of slipshod game-management from their charges, coaching staff must address. Some of the false-narratives being peddled about conservative tactics and nepotism are better-off ignored. Likewise the notion that those in the bootroom should somehow be held accountable for the fact the club has spent 48 months trying to regain its second-tier status.

United have four goalscorers on their books who have entered double figures for the season. That’s more than the three of the other five clubs in the top six.

A whopping 26 per cent of those signed by Clough have previously represented his former club Derby County. Bramall Lane is full of supposed iPro Stadium rejects my a**e.

Nigel isn’t infallible. None of us, not even Jorge Mario Bergoglio, are. He’s not negative either but it’s a snappy consonance.

Yes, United could be better and more effective at times. But are, as several callers to a radio phone-in show claimed on Saturday evening, they being destroyed? Do me a favour.

That’s just panic-stricken tosh. Can we all, please, just get a grip?

Twitter: @JamesShield1

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