HE IS the player some Sheffield United supporters love to hate.
There’s no getting away from it. No point in beating around the bush.
Steve Simonsen is persona non grata with many of those who come to watch Danny Wilson’s side. The new pantomime villain of Bramall Lane.
Responsible for not only costing United points against Sheffield Wednesday and Leyton Orient but also single-handedly wrecking the Euro, the London Riots and War in Afghanistan.
A goalkeeper whose recent performances would shame a drunken Sunday League footballer. Deserving of a pay packet consisting only of buttons rather than pounds, shillings and pence.
Or so the theory - according to those who have never dropped a few clangers at work and achieve the gold mark whatever they turn their hand to - goes.
The very same folk who, only 15 months ago, were probably imploring United to ‘show ambition’ and sign the former England under-21 international because, having cast their expert eye across seven loan appearances, he was the best thing since greasy chip butties.
All of which is, to put it mildly, is complete and utter tosh.
Simonsen, quite clearly, is struggling right now. Falling well below the standards which once saw him earn moves to Everton and most recently Stoke.
His command of the penalty area leaves much to be desired at present and his confidence visibly erodes following slightest error. A pale shadow of the player who wowed travelling fans throughout a superb debut against Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium.
None of which will be lost on either Wilson, the rest of the squad or even Simonsen himself.
Which brings me to the caustic treatment he receives from some detractors, culminating in the 32-year-old being sarcastically cheered whenever he caught a routine cross at Preston earlier this month. And later, according to one email which appeared in my inbox, admonished for failing to acknowledge away fans sat in the Bill Shankly Stand. Hilarious.
Football, like life, is not black and white.
When Simonsen first arrived in South Yorkshire it was to join a side which was good enough to finish eighth in the Championship. Now he is a member of one languishing in League One. And where money is in shorter-supply than an Italian bank.
Clearly, not the only person to have under-achieved of late.
As Wilson’s recent flirtation with Matt Duke confirmed, this is a position he needs to strengthen. But those who claim United should just go out and sign a replacement ignore both the rules of the transfer market and basic economics.
George Long, a relatively untried and untested teenager, is poised to start against Exeter tomorrow but Wilson insists Simonsen “still has a big role to play”.
Therefore, turning him in to a pariah makes no sense if United are to prosper. Yes, Simonsen needs to up his game. But reminding him of that at every opportunity serves no positive or sane purpose for United as a whole.
Articles on formations and tactics are becoming increasingly popular.
Those expressing displeasure in more poisonous terms should perhaps broaden their reading. The Bible – John, Chapter Eight, Verse Seven - for a start.