Steve Simonsen has created a climate in which he can re-establish himself as Sheffield United’s undisputed number one, his manager insists. Danny Wilson points to the change of mood arising from three successive clean sheets, all anchored by the team’s much-criticised goalkeeper, writes Alan Biggs.
Some of the flak was understandable in that Simonsen, pictured, - already fingered by fans as a factor in last season’s relegation - made a series of costly of errors that put him under enormous pressure from the crowd.
But he had nothing but support from within and Wilson is now seeing the benefit of standing by the 32-year-old former Tranmere, Everton and Stoke keeper, who is well out of the spotlight ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup second round visit of Torquay.
Although Simonsen briefly made way for teenager George Long, the Blades boss told the Telegraph: “It’s satisfying to see Steve come through and players only do it if they get that support. He’s proved it was the right thing to do - some of his saves have been fantastic.”
Even so, Wilson felt he had to act at one stage and Simonsen’s brief respite - during which young Long had a torrid time in a 4-4 home draw with Exeter - has proved beneficial.
The Blades boss added: “The one thing you can’t have is the keeper feeling vulnerable. If he’s not confident then it goes straight through the team.
“There was a spell when people were holding their breath. You could feel it in the ground and that only makes people nervous.
“But every player goes through that sort of thing and it was very important that Steve got the support he needed. You can see now that he’s a high-class keeper.”
Nevertheless, the search goes on for another experienced specialist. Although that is no reflection on Simonsen, the issue could be regarded as less urgent than it was a few weeks ago.
Wilson views it from a purely orthodox standpoint. He said: “We’d love to have another keeper - simply because it would be asking a lot for an 18-year-old to play a certain number of games.”