James Shield’s Sheffield United Column: Mistletoe and whine

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‘Tis the season to be jolly.

Or, as visitors to my house over the festive period quickly realise, be a right miserable git.

No amount of mistletoe, wine or Cliff Richard sing-a-longs are going to convince me the world hasn’t gone mad, txt spk isn’t the root of all evil or that youngsters these days just don’t know they’re born.

So, in the spirit of a Chez Shield Christmas, I’m going to use the final column of 2014 to highlight some of the things which have really got my goat during the past 12 months. And outline exactly where the modern game, both at Bramall Lane and further afield, is going wrong.

1) Nigel Clough doesn’t use enough clichés: Why on earth doesn’t the Sheffield United manager describe every match between now and the end of the season as a cup final? After all, beating Aston Villa, West Ham and Southampton is a doddle. Unlike Notts County, MK Dons or the mighty Fleetwood Town.

2) Respect: Without coming over all ‘Ronald Koeman’ there’s a real shortage. Just ask Olaf Thon. It’s a particular problem on social media where, so I’m told, it’s okay to insult people you hardly know because that’s just witty banter right? Wrong.

3) Fans aren’t always right: Yes, we hand over our hard earned cash to pay inflated ticket prices. But that doesn’t buy us the right to behave like pompous, self-important p******s. The next time a player or manager gets abused either on the internet or in person, let’s stop running to the police or demanding public apologies. Take it on the chin and grow-up.

4) Tactically naive: A phrase that needs banning. Unless it’s uttered by someone with a wealth of knowledge. Coaches can frustrate the hell out of all of us at times. But they base selections and tactics on what they see behind closed doors during the week. Leading Wincobank Wanderers to promotion on Championship Manager doesn’t make you Rinus Michels or an expert in the difference between 3-4-3 and 4-4-2.

5) Sports Science: Okay, I know it’s useful. Can help eke a little bit more out of professionals when they step on the pitch. But football is essentially about human beings and the decisions they make. Not computers. No wonder England is full of defenders, midfielder and attackers who can’t appear to fathom how to win a match when things don’t go according to plan.

6) Passion: Should be a prerequisite. Not the difference between success and failure or an excuse to ignore points ‘2’ and ‘3.’ Let’s remember this great business is basically entertainment. Enjoyment. Not hysteria and angst.

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