Sez Les: Blades and the Play-offs

Paul Peschisolido celebrates his 2003 Play-off semi-final goal
Paul Peschisolido celebrates his 2003 Play-off semi-final goal
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Now for the Play-offs and so out comes a saying especially reserved for them and one never heard, I don’t think, during the previous nine months of football.

“It’s only half-time...” Yes, that’s the one.

Nobody has ever used that since this time last season have they?

When the Play-offs arrive, managers will dig it out. And, strangely enough, it’s only used at full-time!

A goal or two up after the first leg of the Plays-offs and... “It’s only half-time,” some manager will chirrup. Nobody argues.

So, at about quarter-to-ten tonight at Bramall Lane, it will only be half-time.

Another thing about the Play-offs. Forget what’s gone before. All this momentum business or worrying about going in on a loser or not scoring goals. Doesn’t mean a thing. Means absolutely nothing.

When the Blades get their first corner tonight and Neill Collins and Harry Maguire trundle forward, rubbing their hands, and the crowd is roaring, it won’t make a blind bit of difference what’s happened last week, the week before or whether they’ve scored lots of goals or none at all.

The play-offs are where anything can happen. Yes, a first leg can be a bit tentative but can also be like a cup-tie. Second legs are often like frantic cup-ties, teams taking desperate measures and they can spawn some of the most dramatic games all season.

THEY’LL actually be more nervous across the other side of the city tomorrow afternoon. I’m rather puzzled as to how Wednesday, with the players they have, are actually in the danger that they are.

Mind you, they could hardly have handpicked ‘better’ opponents than Middlesbrough who have forgotten how to win (just two in 14) but not to lose (seven defeats in their last 10 games).

Owls fans won’t care how they stay up. If the worst did happen then somebody will be hoping it’s not a scenario whereby Chris O’Grady scores and saves Barnsley and helps send his parent club down.

But right now, his Owls winner at Oakwell in December makes a big difference. Without it, a draw it would have been. Therefore Wednesday would have been two points worse off and third bottom on 53 points; Barnsley a point better off on 55.

Win or else. Now that would have been worrying!