Sheffield United Fan’s Column: Getting by without a centre-forward

Stefan Scougall scored against Leyton Orient in the FA Cup last weekend. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Stefan Scougall scored against Leyton Orient in the FA Cup last weekend. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage
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Who needs strikers?

Sheffield United can win without a recognised forward in the team (in the first half anyway). It was like watching Spain in 2010 and 2012 ... for Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas read Duffy, Scougall, Chapman. Okay, not quite.

Leyton Orient were the worst opposition to visit the Lane since I don’t know when. They tried early on but gave up after the first goal went in.

It wasn’t that long ago that Rotherham pipped them to promotion to the Championship thanks to that Wembley wonder goal by Alex Revell, but look where they are now. It shows the folly of allowing an eccentric Italian owner to buy the club and forcing a good manager in Russell Slade to leave.

There have been three hapless Italian managers since then. Former owner Barry Hearn said when he sold up that his successor Francesco Becchetti would change the club forever. Well, he has, and it’s sad to see them in such a state.

Bolton away in the second round will be a good gauge of how the two clubs have progressed since the opening game. That day United were the better of two poor teams and I thought neither would challenge for promotion based on their performances. Bolton – under a proven manager in Phil Parkinson – have improved a lot, but so have United. Out of sight.

The Orient game (and to a lesser extent Leicester City in the Checkatrade Trophy) showed Chris Wilder that he can change his style of play with no ill effect.

If players make good runs and the passing is accurate, it doesn’t really matter how big the forwards are. And in that formation the players are interchangeable, with David Brooks showing when he came on that he can slot in too.

But still, I doubt that Wilder would want to face a decent League One team without any strikers in his starting eleven. So I don’t expect to see this become a trend at United, under Wilder at least, anytime soon.