Everything Albert Camus knew about morality and obligations, he owed to football.
Everything I know about the reasons behind Sheffield United’s wretched start to the season, I owe to watching them in action against Coventry City on Sunday.
Ninety dramatic minutes of League One action which showcased the best and worst sides of the first-team squad’s character. Served to remind exactly what its members could be capable of achieving providing, as they did after a pitiful first-half, they apply themselves properly.
Okay, so United ended-up losing. But, three goals down after 49 minutes, the spirited nature of their comeback was encouraging.
Chris Morgan, taking charge at Sixfields on a caretaker basis following David Weir’s departure earlier that week, identified, inadvertently or otherwise, the crux of the problem immediately after the 3-2 defeat.
Bold with his substitutions, possessing probably more insight than anyone about the personalities within the dressing room and clearly commanding the respect of its members, his contribution also underlined why United’s next manager should find a place for the 35-year-old at the heart of the new regime.
“Obviously we are not not in a great position at the moment but, to be honest, I think most of it is psychological and between the ears,” he said. “We’re on a bad run right now. We know that.
“But we can either feel sorry for ourselves and put in the type of performance we did at the start or we can dig in and respond in the manner we did after the interval. That’s the choice we have.”
Tomorrow, when Port Vale arrive at Bramall Lane, we will discover whether the penny has finally dropped.
No one, not even Arsenal, Chelsea or United’s Mancunian namesakes, could guarantee a victory over the visitors from Burslem. But the type of performance the players produce will speak volumes.
Anyone who receives a b********g during the interval for failing to show enough ‘fight’ should be dropped. Preferably forever. Have their card well and truly marked.
Because, as Camus so beautifully explained, football is not about convoluted systems or complicated philosophies.
It is about sticking-up for your mates. Valuing courage and fair play.