Kevin Gage's Sheffield United Column: Why I'd happily take a draw against Scunthorpe and Bolton Wanderers
It was the same last season really, but for vastly different reasons'¦. I couldn't wait for it to end!
But instead of despairing at our plight and our miserable 11th place finish, this season we are actually relishing the eventual climax.
There is Championship light at the end of our long dark League One tunnel and the Blades promotion train is still steaming along very nicely thank you.
We’re counting down the games, working out the potential points, checking the historic stats and doing the maths.
Points make promotion prizes, so will 85 points do it? Maybe 90 points to be virtually certain? Or 95 points to be absolutely certain? Who knows, but we’ll find out soon enough in due course.
What we definitely do know is that after two excellent away performances, two clean sheets and four vital points, we are still bang on course for auto-promotion, and the next two games will obviously go a long way to deciding our fate. Scunthorpe & Bolton will both visit under no illusions that if they lose they are probably not going to catch us.
I’ve no doubt that despite the media hype they’ll trot out to the contrary in the build-up to the games, they would both snatch our hand off if we offered them a point beforehand. In fact, and even though I have the utmost belief in this team, I would also take two draws right now.
Cue gasps of disbelief from Blades fans but it’s not being defeatist, nor is it being negative. It’s just being entirely logical and pragmatic. It maintains the status quo in the top three, neither side gains ground on us, we’ve plenty of supposedly inferior teams to play, and as I mentioned above, the games are running out. If I was Chris Wilder, would I be therefore saying similar things to the players in the build-up beforehand? Would I be hinting that two draws are OK? No way! Of course not. The message should always be this: We are top of the league, and it’s because we are the best side in the league. We must take the game to the opposition and impose ourselves on them. We maintain the standards we’ve now set ourselves and keep going until the final whistle blows. Because as fans, we’ve come to expect no less, and the near full house at The Lane this Saturday won’t either.
But….consider this cryptic quote from the book ‘Kev Gage’s Promotion Success’, Chapter One:
“If you’re being chased by a grizzly bear, you only have to outrun your slowest companion”.
The three teams at the top are looking over their shoulders at the ‘Play-Off Bear’ behind them, and one of us will be caught and given a mauling in May. Beat both Scunthorpe and Bolton in the next two weeks and it won’t be us for sure. Win either one and/or stay unbeaten and we’ll still probably still outrun them both…..or at least one of them. League One Champions would be glorious, but auto-promotion is the main prize.
Anything else….well it just doesn’t bear thinking about! UTB