DANNY Wilson was disappointed but not surprised when news filtered through to his office that last night’s League One fixture between Crewe Alexandra and Sheffield United had been postponed, writes James Shield.
Wilson, whose team now returns to action at Stevenage this weekend, always suspected the likes of Doncaster Rovers, Brentford and Swindon Town would not be Bramall Lane’s only enemies in the battle for promotion.
The weather, he predicted during a meeting with coaching staff as long ago as August, would also prove a formidable opponent as well.
“Experience tells you that situations like this are always likely to happen,” Wilson told The Star yesterday. “So you plan for every possible scenario as best you can.
“It’s not ideal to be re-arranging matches. I think that goes without saying but it’s something you know is probably going to occur and so you try and second guess.
“We all sat down at the start of the season and talked about it. When you get past Christmas everyone tends to breath a sigh of relief and think they’re over the worst of the conditions.
“But in football it’s always now, January, February and March, that they usually start to take effect.”
With United facing a busy end to the campaign - they could be forced to play five games in 15 days having already rescheduled Crawley Town’s visit for April 16 - it has become apparent why Wilson fought so vigorously to bolster the options at his disposal during the recent transfer window.
The South Yorkshire club’s congested calendar could also impact upon events elsewhere with Chris Porter likely to be recalled from his loan at Shrewsbury unless further reinforcements can be found.
Revealing he enjoys only limited input into discussions about how best to re-arrange the fixture programme, Wilson said: “The Football League rules stipulate that you’ve got to play the game at the earliest possible opportunity.
“It’s not a case of playing it when you’d like or at a time to suit you. If there is a gap then you fit it in then unless there’s a very good reason otherwise.
“We don’t all have a chat over the telephone and come up with something ourselves or anything like that. It’s not how things work.”
Officials at Gresty Road, where referee Peter Roberts deemed sections of the playing surface “unsafe” following sub-zero temperatures in Cheshire 24 hours earlier, proposed their clash with United could take place on April 23 following talks with the governing body and their divisional counterparts last night.
“I haven’t actually seen the pitch over there,” Wilson said. “Apparently the area around the centre circle caused most concern but they told us that other sections were rock hard as well.
“We’re were really disappointed that the match couldn’t go ahead. It was one we were looking forward to and would have been a good spectacle as well because Crewe and ourselves both like the pass the ball.
“Plus, we are playing well at the moment and are confident. The same, of course, goes for them which is why I know Crewe were also very keen to get the game on but in the end they couldn’t.
“We have to respect that decision. Crewe were very keen for it to go ahead as well apparently.”
“The fact they are in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final means they’re going to ‘lose’ a weekend as it were,” the United manager added. “So it’s awkward for everyone concerned.
“Still, there’s no point in moaning or worrying. We deal with it and get on with things the same as we always do.”
Wilson, though, acknowledged that Jamie Murphy and Jonathan Forte would benefit from being able to do “some extra fitness work” after marking their return from injury against MK Dons last weekend. The duo had missed two and four matches respectively after being diagnosed with groin problems.
“They’ll get something out of it because we’ll be able to do a little bit more with them,” Wilson, the United manager, said. “They were ready to play (against the Dons) but of course weren’t quite 100 per cent because they’d been out for a while.
“So hopefully we should be able to bring them right up to speed.”