A little faith can go a Long way in United goal

By George: Not this time as George Long spreads himself to save
By George: Not this time as George Long spreads himself to save
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Questions have been raised recently over United keeper Steve Simonsen.

I have talked about his form or lack of it and so have many other Blades. Danny Wilson insisted people should not to heap all the blame on Simonsen and show such little faith in him.

I think in our past few games Simonsen has made some mistakes that were obvious for all to see. However the Blades boss is right when he says it is a lot easier to target the keeper for his blunders rather than the less so obvious mistakes from a man in, say, midfield. A good friend of mine that works with Manchester United has a big thing about individual players being highlighted and emphasises very adamantly that there are 11 players on the pitch.

I do believe players as individuals have to step up to the plate but must work as a team. I remember at Real Madrid back in 2005, every player was world class, yet they couldn’t win a thing. The words unit and communication were nonexistent in their play. I saw it every day in training and on the pitch. The results were awful.

Yes I too have blamed Simonsen but I also say that our defence should be working and communicating with the Blades keeper.

I’ve also blamed our midfield for not releasing the pressure, closing our opponents down and turning things around to go on the attack. However Simonsen being dropped and George Long brought in does hint something about the boss’ faith and thought-process. Has he lost confidence in our first choice keeper? Has our first choice keeper lost confidence? Or did Wilson bring Long in for a change of scenery? A little test for the 17 year old local lad?

I thought he did well. He didn’t really do much at all in the first half and had extra handling time at half time, which made me laugh, but he coped well until the final whistle. The goal we conceded would have tested the majority of experienced keepers so we can’t judge him on that. But was Long really tested under pressure? Probably not, but it was a big step for his confidence which I guess separates the good from the best.

Wilson did say when commenting on his decision to choose Long, that he is a very calm player, level headed and not fazed at all. If that’s the case then I say test him a little bit more and give him more first team football.

I’d like to see him under pressure and see how he comes through. I hope this drives Simonsen to prove a point and show his own worth and role as a United player rather than shaking his confidence further.

Credit has to go to the United Academy for bringing through a player like Long. How hard is it to find a decent, reliable and solid keeper in English football? The position said to be the most important in football.

The importance of a goalkeeper either having the skills to start attacks or the intelligence to give the ball to players lying deep is pivotal to any team looking to dominate their opposition. In this I look forward to the progression of Long.

Looking to this weekend and I’d like to say Exeter City should be a sure thing for us but I’ve lost my confidence a little in Sheffield United taking on the lower league teams. Let’s learn from the past weeks and not slip up or take our foot off the gas. The recent draws with Leyton Orient and Wycombe should definitely not have ended up with the Blades dropping vital points.