It’s been another busy sporting weekend in our region with winners and losers aplenty.
Here, we have a look at five things we learned from the past few days’ action:
1. British fighters can live the American dream
Not too many people gave Kell Brook a hope in his IBF World Welterweight title clash with Shawn Porter in the American’s own backyard. Bookies had Porter as favourite and part of the reason for that is that Brits don’t tend to travel well when there is a world title at stake.
But on Sunday morning, those bleary-eyed fight fans who stayed up or set their alarms for a bird-singing early rise, witnessed history as Brook defeated Porter to bring the belt back to Sheffield. What made it all the more impressive was that it went to 12 rounds with many believing that the Ingle Gym-trained 28 year old would have to register a knock out if he was to claim victory. However, after overcoming a strong start from the Californian at the StubHub Centre Brook deservedly took the win by a majority decision. Now, hopefully Amir Khan awaits and at a venue that would mean we’ll not be so tired after watching it!
2. It might be early, but Nigel Clough is taking no nonsense
Expectation levels are incredibly high at Bramall Lane this season, and after the turnaround in fortunes following Nigel Clough’s appointment, which led to an FA Cup semi-final, that’s understandable. However, the Blades have lost their first two league games and didn’t exactly impress in their Capital One Cup win over League Two Mansfield either. While it’s far too early for anyone to be even inching their hand anywhere near the panic button, boss Clough laid down a marker with his quotes, following Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Coventry City in (sadly) Northampton’s Sixfields Stadium.
After picking out Jamie Murphy, Ryan Flynn and Stefan Scougall, Clough said, generally ,of his side: “People ask if we’ll put an arm around the lads’ shoulders. And if that helps then that’s what we’ll do. But, to be honest, I think players get too much of that these days. Sometimes you’ve just got to find it in yourself.”
For ‘old school’ football fans, it’s a refreshing stance. Perhaps some players need a verbal kick up the backside instead of a cuddle.
3. Stevie May is a handful
Scottish striker Stevie May made his eagerly awaited debut for Sheffield Wednesday in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Derby County and while he didn’t cap off his first appearance in a blue and white shirt with a goal, the 21 year old certainly looked at home at Hillsborough.
The jump from the top flight north of the border to the Championship here is massive these days but, what the two divisions have in common is the physical nature of the play and May has brought that with him as he swapped central Scotland for South Yorkshire.
The under 21 international, long-haired, bearded and looking more like he should be spending his Saturday afternoons with a surfboard, never gave the Derby defence a moment’s peace - he held the ball up well, looked nimble in and around the box and was strong enough to fight off the likes of Jake Buxton, a tough, experienced no-nonsense defender. It’ll take him a while to really settle in, but the first impressions bode well.
4. Joe Root can be England’s new Kevin Pietersen, but without the grief
Joe Root’s star continues to rise and it hit another height over the weekend as the Sheffield lad turned in another impressive display as England beat India by an innings and 244 runs at The Oval.
Root had become only the third English batsman to score a half-century in each match of a five-test series and eventually finished with an unbeaten 149. For England selectors he’s perfect, with the arguable ability to become as good a batsman as Kevin Pietersen, but he’s steady, safe, unlikely to ruffle too many feathers as he gets on with the job of hitting the ball and in the nicest possible way (though you never know) doesn’t seem the type to be on the look out for a pop star girlfriend. There’s a lot more to come from Joe.
5. Leroy Lita’s still got it
Having spent so many short spells at clubs on loan, there are plenty of people who may have felt that the best of Leroy Lita has been and gone. However and goal in his first start for Barnsley in their win over Crewe on Saturday suggested that Danny Wilson may have made something of a coup in bringing the 29 year old (I was a little surprised by that too) down to League One. While Lita had few chances to make a go of it in the Premier League, in my eyes he remains a Championship-quality striker and so, now playing at a level below that, Reds fans should be gearing up for the prospect of a lot more goals where Saturday’s came from.