The Blades looked to have overcome the Basham blow by getting themselves back on level terms at 1-1, before two more Fulham goals kept them bottom of the top-flight table. It’s been a tough week on the injury front for the Blades, while debutant Auston Trusty’s performance provided some light among the gloom at Craven Cottage...
1. The big Bash blow
It’s difficult to fully imagine how difficult it must have been for United’s players to pick themselves up and attempt to go again after seeing such a popular man and teammate in Chris Basham suffer such a horror injury on the field. The mood in the United end had begun jovial, with a full repertoire of songs emerging from the away end into the West London air, but after Basham’s injury things (completely understandably) went a little flat as everyone tried to process what they had seen. United are a close-knit group and the blow will have hit them hard, but there was still the majority of the game to play and they had to somehow put it out of their minds and carry on. Noticeably, Anel Ahmedhodzic thundered into a 50/50 challenge just moments after the restart but concern over Basham would have been inevitable, as such a popular player and man. There’s only one Chrissy Basham.
2. The curse strikes again
It seems a little crass to talk about Basham’s Craven Cottage experience in purely footballing terms, considering the human element, but his injury is another huge blow for Heckingbottom in terms of defensive availability. He made a point in the build-up of saying he now has four centre-halves for three positions and now that is down to three for three, with Egan visiting a specialist earlier in the week to assess his own injury and the likely timescale. It was classic United luck in some ways, as they received some good news with returns of Rhian Brewster last week and John Fleck this, before losing another key man in Egan - as well as midfielder Tom Davies, with more bad news over his own situation. The lord giveth and the lord taketh away, and all that
3. A selection call
Boss Heckingbottom has always vowed to take the brave option with his selection but there was an understandable change in approach here, with Ollie Norwood drafted in in midfield to anchor alongside Vini Souza. That meant James McAtee dropping to the bench - a call he can have few complaints over really after his impact since returning to the club - and more attacking responsibility on the shoulders of Gus Hamer. The jury is out whether Hamer and McAtee can play together in the same side, or whether it has to be one or the other, and the decision almost paid off with United 15 minutes or so away from a morale-boosting away point before more misfortune struck.
4. A selection call
One of the other biggest talking points from the game occurred an hour before it started, when team news from Craven Cottage officially dropped. Throughout the week it seemed like a straight shootout between Basham and Auston Trusty for the chance to replace the injured John Egan - a straight shootout between experience and youth, if you like. In the end both players got the nod, with Jack Robinson dropping to the bench - a big call, because for my money Robinson has been the most consistent centre-half for United so far this season. But in the end Robinson had to put aside his inevitable disappointment and frustration after being thrust into action following Basham’s injury