It is said that pre-season results don’t matter - just look at 2013, when David Weir’s team did not lose a game - but given that they don’t, a couple of the pre-season performances (at Burton and York) certainly raised a few doubts, leaving me wondering if the bookies had got it right and if the unbounded optimism of many fellow Blades was well founded.
Then when I saw that Saturday’s line-up did not contain Neill Collins, Andy Butler and Michael Doyle I feared the worst. Youth is good and exciting, but you can’t beat experience.
To open the season with a makeshift central defence of a right back and a novice did not bode well. Actually Craig Alcock was our best player on the day, but I’d rather have seen him sprinting up and down the wing causing trouble at their end. The new HM did OK, but he is not yet the old HM.
And however impressive Louis Reed was in pre-season (he did OK too against Bristol too), you only realise what Michael Doyle does when he’s not playing. City’s winner was the type of chance he might well have snuffed out before it got too dangerous. As it was, Stefan Scougall was not concentrating and allowed Wade Elliott to run past him unopposed. With Doyle there, I wager that would not have happened.
The first goal too came from a Chris Basham error in City’s half and United were not sufficiently organised to repel their fast break.
Cloughie says he picked the team based on pre-season performances; he proved last season he knows what he’s doing, so we can only let him get on with it.