Alan Biggs: Sharp Billy and back-to-basics Blades
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em? Well, if it doesn’t sound stupid, Sheffield United are playing like a team playing against THEMSELVES at the moment.
Or the way that teams used to play against them before discovering that attacking THIS United can be even more effective.
And so it is that the Blades’ season under Nigel Adkins has turned full circle. . . and the revolution of this particular wheel takes us back to an approach even more pragmatic than the counter-attacking style for which former boss Nigel Clough was criticised.
Well, there’s more than one way to win football matches and, for all the snobbery about such things, they’re all fine (within the laws) if they work. United have ground out three one-nils back to back. Nothing wrong with that in my book; it’s a recognition, albeit belatedly, about something that wasn’t working.
Also gets me thinking about the kind of player you need in tight matches, someone who can take that one chance when it presents itself. Step forward Billy Sharp with two in two, even if the first (against Coventry) was a touch fortunate.
Some might argue that Billy is even more effective in this type of football. But he won’t want to carry on doing it like this and neither will his boss. Adkins will be working to acquire more authority at the back and in midfield during the January window, knowing that he has sufficient threat up front if the team is anchored strongly enough to start being an attacking force again.
In the meantime, it’s slightly humbling for the biggest club (far and away) in League One to be going back to basics. But Adkins certainly doesn’t lack in that department.
In terms of humility, he’s as nice a bloke as you could wish to meet on the managerial circuit.
Some might argue too nice – and too philosophical with whimsical sayings that would sit better in more settled times. But his highly impressive record says otherwise and United are right to keep backing their choice of manager for a change.
Besides, nobody gives a damn about incidental stuff like that when teams are winning.
And right now nobody gives a damn how they are winning. Sometimes, quite literally, you have to take a step back in order to go forward.