We said as we were leaving the lovely pub we found a mile and a bit from Sixfields that that was the best bit of the day over with, says Matthew Bell.
It’s difficult to criticise Cloughie after what he achieved last season, but he has admitted that he doesn’t know which players he just can’t leave out. Blades fans could forgive the home defeat to Bristol City, taking into account the new players and the tough opposition, but to play so limply for 70 minutes at Covhampton was harder to accept.
It’s hard for the fans to raise any atmosphere in a three-sided, open ground with a couple of thousand inside. But during the second half the Blades fans were as quiet as I can remember them being, confused and concerned by what they were watching.
Our old friend Reda Johnson must have gone home with a flattened brow, so many times did we find his head with hopeful forward balls. The Blades fans’ silence came to an abrupt end at the final whistle as they let the players know they weren’t happy.
However, I don’t believe I can claim credit for the victory at Peterborough in what was – on last season’s form – the most difficult of our three games so far. Whether or not Cloughie reads this column – somehow I doubt it – he made the changes to the starting line-up I called for after the first game, namely the return of Neill Collins and Michael Doyle and moving Craig Alcock to right back.
Jose Baxter made a difference too, but that doesn’t mean this is the team Cloughie will stick with forever. The whole squad will be needed at some stage, even the player Cloughie appears to regret signing, Andy Butler.
Honesty is one of the manager’s most admirable characteristics but to call Butler ‘as unimpressive as anybody’ in the pre-season was perhaps taking openness a bit too far.