YOU don’t win anything with kids?
Sheffield United would beg to differ.
Nevertheless, as the South Yorkshire club resumes its latest League One campaign against AFC Bournemouth tomorrow, manager Danny Wilson acknowledges there is still plenty of room for improvement after admonishing his charges for failing to beat Colchester last weekend.
“I was angry and the lads were angry,” Wilson, who included five teenagers in his most recent squad, said. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being like that.
“In fact, we probably needed it because we were a little bit sloppy in key areas.
“We can get better. You always can and the longer we are together as a group the better we should get.
“Football isn’t about Utopia. But if we do tweaks then they should only be fine ones.
“Hopefully a little bit of that giddiness, from everyone, will go in front of goal as the games continue.”
As John Cofie’s extravagant finish at the Weston Homes Community Stadium demonstrated, the ability of United’s young generation is beyond question.
Few players in the third tier of English football would have the audacity, let alone the ability, to float such a shot over the goalkeeper’s head from fully 30 yards.
But, as Clinton Morrison proved when he punished United’s profligacy by snatching a second-half equaliser for John Ward’s side, the visitors can certainly improve their game-craft.
Little wonder as Cofie and Blackman, who spearheaded their attack in north Essex, boast only 40 senior domestic appearances between them although the latter did impress north of the border with both Motherwell and Aberdeen.
Remove Matt Hill, Michael Doyle and Neill Collins from the equation and Wilson’s most recent starting eleven had an average age of just under 23.
Hence United’s decision to hand striker Richard Cresswell a coaching role although, it emerged yesterday, his day to day duties at Shirecliffe will undergo a gradual rather than dramatic change.
Wilson, who had expected to lose the 34-year-old’s services before tonight’s transfer deadline, said: “The great thing from Richard’s point of view is that he just wants to play football for Sheffield United.
“He’s a throw-back - and I mean this with no disrespect to modern day players - in that all he’s bothered about is playing football.
“Long-term, he’ll help with the younger lads and even down to the academy if that’s what they want.
“Cressy is a model professional. A great role model.”
Despite admiring the aesthetics of United’s performances at both Coventry and Colchester, the statistics those encounters spawned made decidedly unpleasant reading for Wilson earlier this week.
In 180 minutes of football, his players enjoyed over 55 per cent of possession, unleashed 19 shots and took 14 corners but returned home with only two points and two goals.
United enter their meeting with Paul Groves’ side still unbeaten in league competition this season but knowing they must also demonstrate more ruthlessness in the opposition’s final third.
“Do we change things around? The thing is, in general terms I thought we did ever so well at Colchester,” Wilson said. “We played well and didn’t give them many chances other than, unfortunately, the one they stuck away.”
Wilson added: “I wouldn’t want to swap the performances we’ve had for points though. If you were asking me later in the season then I might give you a different answer.
“But, right now, the lads are playing well and that gives us a really strong platform to build upon.
“When we came in a year ago, the change in style we oversaw took a bit of time but we’ve got players here who are used to it now and they’ll bring the others along.
“So, in that sense, I think we’re a little bid ahead on where we were 12 months ago.”
Teams and ref
blades (possible): Howard, McMahon, Maguire, Collins, Hill, McAllister, McDonald, Doyle, Quinn, Blackman, Cofie.
bournemouth (possible): Jalal, Francis, Elphick, Addison, Pugh, Daniels, Partington, O’Kane, MacDonald, Thomas, Grabban.
NIGEL MILLER (Co Durham): Has not sent-off a player in League One for 12 months. His last visit to Bramall Lane was in May when he took charge of United’s play-off semi-final victory over Stevenage. Averages exactly two cautions per game so far this term.