I wondered whether Sheffield United’s fast-growing Scottish contingent might be under the weather on Sunday after consuming neeps and tatties on Burns Night, says Matthew Bell.
There were six Scots on the pitch at the end of the game, but there were no signs of any of them having over-indulged the previous night.
In fact, the performances of two of them in particular – Ryan Flynn and Jamie Murphy – have come on markedly in recent weeks. Both (Flynn more so) have had a tendency in the past of not taking responsibility, instead turning and passing to the full back, but both appear to have been given the freedom by Nigel Clough to run at defenders whenever they get the chance, and United look far more of a dangerous attacking force when they do so. Murphy has suffered so many minor, but persistent, injuries in the year he has been here and has never had a consistent run in the side, but now he, like Flynn, is benefiting from the confidence-boosting management style of Clough.
The manager might also have struck gold with Stefan Scougall. We’ve only seen him for 45 minutes, but already he looks a livewire, not afraid to mix it with bigger defenders.
He also looks a confident individual, pointing and ordering people about as soon as he came on. And with him in the team it gives United another player who is willing to run with the ball at defenders.
A word about Michael Doyle’s foolishness – even though he’s a combative player he normally knows how to handle himself so that he keeps out of trouble. Yes, he back-chats to the referee a lot, but he can use the excuse that he’s captain for doing that.
However, he doesn’t pick up too many bookings and I don’t recall any previous red cards in the three years he has been with us at Bramall Lane.