Martin Smith column: Wisdom of geese and the dignity of a Sheffield champion

Nigel Adkins has got the Blades flying in formation. Photo:-'Sport Image
Nigel Adkins has got the Blades flying in formation. Photo:-'Sport Image
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The wisdom of geese? Sheffield United’s players’ flying-V formation goal celebration at Swindon on Saturday told of the players’ tongue-in-cheek response to manager Nigel Adkins’ team motivational video.

Many will have watched the You Tube video since and reflected on the power of co-ordinated teamwork, shared responsibility and discipline.

Others will have scratched their heads, dismissed it as manager madness and gone back to Facebook or the latest on the Kardashians.

But Adkins’ off-beat pep talk has already worked.

It’s already united his players as their goal celebration shows. And he’s not the first to invoke the animal kingdom - seagulls and trawlers come to mind.

And Ian Holloway once famously chirped: “I couldn’t be more chuffed if I were a badger at the start of the mating season’. Jose Mourinho insisted that Chelsea were: “A little horse that still needs milk and to learn how to jump.”

No matter how barmy they might at first seem, if it brings a team together to reflect - one part sincerity nine parts pee-taking perhaps - it has done its job.

Four league wins on the spin shows that the Blades and Nigel Adkins doing something right over there.

* The world has paid tribute to Sheffield racing driver Justin Wilson who died last week after being hit by debris as he raced at Pocono in Pennsylvania in the US.

When Justin was starting out and hoping to win a place on a Formula 1 team I had the privilege of meeting him and his family in their home near Harthill.

His father Keith took us round the trophy room he had set up to Justin and no doubt later added his brother and fellow driver Stefan’s memorabilia to it at the family home.

Keith and Justin’s mum Lynne were so proud and supportive and Justin, as the world now knows, was just a nice kid.

Shy, a little awkward but with an inner certainty of his own ability, Justin grew too tall for Formula 1 and after several trials and test drives eventually chose to take his talent to the US and the IndyCar circuit.

He grew into a top class driver and father of two girls and a man highly respected in and away from the motor racing world.

His family knew the dangers of their sons’ occupation and had learned to live with their fears but nothing could have prepared them for the shock of losing Justin.