WHILE Chelsea and Liverpool count the cost of transfer deadline day, Micky Adams is doing sums of an altogether different kind.
With Sheffield United locked in a desperate battle for Championship survival, accumulating points, not pounds is the most important item on his agenda between now and the end of what has been an eventful but troubled campaign
Adams, the fourth person to occupy the manager’s office at Bramall Lane this season, carries no responsibility for United’s difficulties at present.
But, having been handed the task of saving them from relegation, he cut a frustrated figure as three more went begging despite watching his players dominate Leicester City for long periods of the contest.
United, who were denied a deserved equaliser when Elian Parrino‘s effort was cleared off the line by substitute Matt Oakley, could not be faulted for character.
But, after falling behind to Andy King’s early strike, they ultimately lacked the cutting edge and good fortune to make their weight of possession pay.
A draw would have been a fairer outcome but, as Adams reflected recently, football can be a cruel game.
The fee United paid to secure the services of Neill Collins, their only acquisition before Monday’s deadline, pales into insignificance compared to those commanded by Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll.
Nevertheless, Adams hopes the former Leeds centre-half will exert considerable influence over a back four which, against Sven Goran Eriksson’s side, began the match with three members aged 22 and under.
They nullified the threat posed by City’s experienced frontline but, given United’s perilous predicament, Collins is expected to be thrust into action when Adams’ squad return to action at Ipswich Town on Saturday.
Events last night makes it even more important they achieve a positive result.
Eriksson, armed with the backing and baht of City’s new Thai owners, has embarked upon a considerable spending spree of his own since taking charge in October.
The presence of Chelsea’s Patrick Van Aanholt, heir apparent to Ashley Cole, Darius Vassell and Everton marksman Aiyegbeni Yakubu in the visitors’ starting 11 illustrated the Swede is serious about delivering promotion at the first attempt.
The Nigeria international needed just four minutes to repay another chunk of his loan fee by chesting the ball into the path of King who effortlessly deposited it into the back of United’s net.
Unfortunately, some sections of the travelling support failed to show similar class by taunting Joe Mattock as he was carried off midway through the half with a serious-looking injury.
Eriksson had identified Marcus Bent and Ched Evans as the biggest dangers to City’s hopes of recording a second straight win.
But it was the unlikely figure of Nick Montgomery, better known for his foraging in midfield rather than finishing ability, who led United’s response with a screaming 30-yard attempt which Chris Weale did well to palm around the post.
The City goalkeeper was beaten just before the interval when Lee Williamson, having seen debutant Michael Doyle tripped on the edge of the penalty, unleashed an equally vicious free-kick, but United’s anger grew when the post intervened.
United, who had earlier seen Shane Lowry’s drive blocked by Sol Bamba, started the second period on the front foot with Evans, bristling with energy and invention, continuing to impress.
Bent blazed over the crossbar from close range following Williamson’s delicious cross while referee David Webb waved away their appeal for a 60th-minute penalty when Yuki Abe dithered under pressure.
Lowry should have dragged United back on level terms but failed to hit the target
Parrino, having seen Oakley hook away his 89th-minute header, then forced Weale to make another spectacular save in stoppage time.