Blades fan column: There really aren't any easy games in our league
Whenever an opposing player makes a bad challenge, Blades fans bay for the referee to show red.
When the dismissal is made, a huge cheer goes up and the player leaves the field to jeers and abuse.
When the process is repeated a bit later the cheers and jeers grow louder.
Great, now we’re playing against ten men. Then nine men. Should be easy. We’ll put seven past these.
But it doesn’t always work like that. Mediocre teams such as Shrewsbury and Bury already have a defensive mindset, hoping to snatch a goal on the break or from a set-piece. That can always happen, as Shrewsbury’s gallant nine proved.
With numbers reduced, the defensive mindset becomes deeper ingrained and individual and collective determination to hold out grows stronger.
So we get a packed penalty area and defenders’ legs, feet and heads desperately getting in the way of everything.
When you have no pretension to attack, defending becomes easier, as long as you remain fit and stay organised.
The full-complement, higher-ranked team finds its plans disrupted, resulting in players having to perform roles they are not accustomed to.
For example, against Bury, Ethan Ebanks-Landell and Jack O’Connell were doing so much attacking down the flanks they were getting in the way of Chris Basham and Dan Lafferty. Over-elaboration ensued.
The change to 4-4-2 was timely. Then when Paul Coutts decided to run beyond the 18-yard line for the first time he set up the goal, as Ethan showed the misfiring forwards how to finish.
The statement that there are no easy games is a cliché, but it is nearly always true – Leyton Orient excepted.