“I DON’T know why we are here but I’m pretty sure it’s not in order to enjoy ourselves.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein was grappling with the philosophy of logic when he uttered this quote. But he could easily have been talking about football.
Tuesday’s game between Sheffield United and Crewe Alexandra, which saw both sides veer from the sublime to the ridiculous with impressive ease, provided compelling viewing for a neutral.
But for managers Danny Wilson and Steve Davis, not to mention 16,000 supporters who watched this drama unfold from the stands, it must have been absolute torture.
Twenty-four hours earlier, with his team sitting second in the table and two points off the top, Michael Doyle told a press conference at Shirecliffe that his over-riding emotion was frustration.
The United captain’s words provided a revealing insight into the mind of a professional sportsperson given that, less than 48 hours earlier, he had helped the South Yorkshire club smash four goals past Stevenage.
Nothing is ever good enough. The voracious appetite for achievement which drives these ultra-competitive beings on.
Publicly, Wilson insisted there would be no lengthy inquest into the draw with Crewe. Privately, the former Northern Ireland international and his staff will have poured over the details.
Like the game itself, United’s latest debrief will have delighted and dismayed in equal measure. A defence, albeit missing two of its stalwarts, which had previously conceded an average of 1.5 goals per game was breached three times by opponents who travelled east having averaged 1.05 goal a match.
Then again, United scored three times themselves and created 27 chances compared to the six and 10 they engineered against MK Dons and Swindon. That must be balanced against the fact, though, that for the fourth time since August, they failed to secure maximum points after taking a lead at home.
Typically the biggest positive to emerge from this unpredictable contest was borne out of a negative. George Long, United’s goalkeeper, was responsible for gifting Crewe their equaliser.
Would the teenager, previously so assured, crumble as a result of his poor punch? Did he heck.
Every footballer makes mistakes. It’s how they react that counts and Long’s performance after the break proved he possess the character to succeed.
Yes, if you add up the ‘ifs,’ ‘buts’ and ‘maybes,’ United could be out of sight at the top of League One. Trouble is, every member of League One’s top six could say the same.
United travel to Brentford tomorrow within touching distance of the summit. There really ain’t a lot wrong.