Barry puts shine on that hated window

Combative player: New United recruit Barry Robson, right, can score and create goals and isn't afraid to make his presence felt
Combative player: New United recruit Barry Robson, right, can score and create goals and isn't afraid to make his presence felt
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Sheffield United: Danny Wilson backs Barry to shine

But, compared to those final few moments before last night’s transfer deadline, Danny Wilson will find this evening’s encounter with Coventry City an absolute breeze.

Sheffield United’s manager, like the overwhelming majority of those working at the coal face of English football, views the window system with complete contempt.

So, when the region’s media gathered for their weekly briefing at Shirecliffe, the opportunity to let rip proved impossible to resist.

“They’re rubbish,” Wilson said. “Absolute rubbish because of the pressure they put on clubs and especially those in the lower leagues.

“It’s undue, it really is because, speaking in general terms, the whole thing becomes a panic.

“Nobody likes them but it seems we are stuck with them and that’s because the people who make these decisions are not actually involved in the business of the game.”

Wilson’s claim that placing constraints on the buying and selling of players serves no discernible purpose other than keeping Jim White in a job is unlikely to curry favour at FIFA HQ.

Nevertheless, not even its most committed of advocates could fail to sympathise with the 53-year-old’s predicament yesterday.

With a crucial League One encounter against dangerous opponents looming large on the horizon, the maelstrom of rumours, claim and counter-claim engulfing his squad was an unnecessary distraction ahead of such a vitally important match.

City, having won 16 of their 30 games under Mark Robins’ tutelage, travelled north eighth in the table.

United, with only one win since Boxing Day, have quickly dropped from first to sixth.

With leading scorer Nick Blackman completing his £1.2m move to Reading, Wilson could name Barry Robson in the starting eleven which entertains City after acquiring the Scotland midfielder’s services on a short-term contract.

“Barry can create goals and he can score them,” he said. “Plus he’s a strong character.

“If you look at his career, Barry is a winner and good teams are always full of those.

“Effectively, we are bringing in a Championship footballer and his experience will be a huge asset too.”

Robson, aged 34, has returned to England following a brief spell with Vancouver Whitecaps and Wilson added: “We’ve got eight matches coming up in a month so everyone is going to be used.

“Barry been training with his old club Middlesbrough and, of course, he’s played for Celtic so it’s fair to say he’s not going to be bothered about stepping into pressure situations.”

White’s histrionics are all about theatre. History suggests this 55th meeting between United and City might be anything but.

Four of their previous eight encounters have ended in stalemate. Seven seasons have passed since the victor prevailed by more than a single goal.

Nevertheless, given its importance both its sporting and symbolic importance, Wilson is confident of an absorbing clash.

Danny Higginbotham and Jamie Murphy, signed during the opening phase of the window, should feature while Neill Collins could also take part despite taking a blow to the face during training.

Collins returned to action at Reading last weekend after recovering from a fractured cheekbone.

“This is two big names going head to head under lights at Bramall Lane,” Wilson said. “And those sorts of occasions are always special, ones to look forward to and really savour.”

Teams and ref

UNITED (possible): Long, McMahon, Collins, Maguire, Higginbotham, Flynn, Doyle, McDonald, Murphy, Kitson, Ironside (4-4-2).

COVENTRY (possible): Murphy, Wood, Edjenguele, Christie, Adams, Jennings , Moussa , Baker, Bailey, Fleck, Clarke (4-4-2).

Fred Graham: Based in Essex, he has sent off only one player in all competitions this season. However, he does issue an average of 3.31 cautions per game. Took charge of several games in the Scottish Football League last season and Sheffield United’s FA Cup tie at Bristol Rovers earlier this season.