Apparently, BBC One’s Final Score kept going back to Valley Parade (I still call it that) to get reports on “the most exciting match this season”.
Well, it was, wasn’t it? Two good sides going toe-to-toe and trying to win from the first minute to the last. Afterwards, both managers were rightly full of praise for the opposition. Bradford’s midfield trio of Billy Clarke, Nicky Law and Josh Cullen were brilliant, but Mark Duffy was as good and John Fleck was better. Law has come on a bit since he marked Paul Scholes on his debut as a spotty youth!
For the past few seasons if United had gone 2-1 up away from home (it happened rarely, I know), the manager would have implored “Everybody back!” But not Chris Wilder, who in his post-match interview made a point of praising Kieron Freeman and Daniel Lafferty for bombing forward in injury time trying to get the winner. If that means more games like last Saturday’s, let’s have them, even if it means fewer clean sheets.
A friend of mine who sits in the South Stand just behind the dug-outs told me about something he saw towards the end of the Port Vale match.
United were 3-0 when Matt Done got the ball near the half-way line and turned as if to pass it backwards. Wilder made an exaggerated swing of the arm, pointed to the Kop and shouted “Forward!” How refreshing after the caution of the last two managers.
Something else I’ve noticed is the number of times the midfielders pass the ball forward ten or twenty yards to Sharp or Done instead of in the passing ‘arc’ we became used to of down the left, back to the centre circle, down the right, back to the centre circle etc. etc. That’s because the players are being constantly instructed to move the ball forwards and now have the confidence to do so.
After years of disappointment and boredom, we might have to get used to a bit of excitement.