Clough, Moyes and Oughtibridge War Memorial FC

Sheffield United's manager Nigel Clough
Sheffield United's manager Nigel Clough
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Confidence, belief, understanding.

No, not the recipe for a happy marriage or a guide to better sales figures.

They are qualities shared by Sheffield United and Bayern Munich, the key qualities that Premier League leaders Chelsea have in common with Oughtibridge War Memorial Football Club, 13 points clear at the top of Sheffield County Senior League’s Premier Division.

They are the prime elements that make a team work successfully.

Ability is transient and elusive for all but the elite.

Every level of football has teams that overcome a shortage of talent to become winners.

The opposite also occurs.

Teams laden with good players who can’t or won’t produce more than the sum of their parts as a unit.

Inter Milan were like it for years as have been Real Madrid at various points in their Galactico history, Tottenham throughout the 1980s and Newcastle in the 1990s.

Then there’s David Moyes’

Manchester United.

Was there ever a more curious case of under-achievement?

Have the champions of England ever before been laid so low so quickly?

Moyes was brought in to maintain continuity from Alex Ferguson’s 26 years of outrageous success into a new era.

But the hallmarks of his tenure so far are a team with no confidence in their collective abilities, no belief in what they are supposed to be doing and no real understanding of what that actually is.

Sound familiar?

Does that roughly describe the pre-February Sheffield United? According to their fans it does.

Doesn’t that describe every under-achieving team anywhere at any level?

Managers are often given credit or apportioned more blame than is rightfully due to them and things can often look a lot worse than they actually are.

We know from Liverpool and Sheffield United’s seasons, that things can change gradually or quickly.

Moyes is a decent man and manager and may yet turn his club’s fortunes around. He may yet restore the confidence, belief and understanding his team lacks at the moment.

But once lost those commodities take a hell of a lot of winning back. No matter who your team is.