Chris Basham reveals why people who say Sheffield United are dead and buried are overlooking a very important point
Chris Basham believes the chaotic nature of the Premier League campaign, which has prompted a series of unexpected results at both ends of the table, should provide Sheffield United with the belief that they can escape relegation despite entering the New Year 11 points short of safety.
The defender, who is poised to make his 300th appearance for the club at Crystal Palace tomorrow, acknowledged that in “any other season” United would probably already be “completely” cut adrift after losing all but two of their opening 16 games.
But with only six points separating Chris Wilder’s side from West Bromwich Albion in 19th, Basham told The Star his team mates can take encouragement from the fact that even the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City are struggling for consistency as issues arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic wreak havoc with English football’s usual routines.
“We have meetings with the manager every couple of days and that’s what he tells us,” Basham said. “He tells us that if it’s going to happen any season, a team coming back from the position we are in, then it’s going to be this one and I agree 100 percent.
“With his belief and with the older lads in the dressing room, we’ve got to keep sticking to our wits and reminding everybody of that, because I definitely think it’s true. There’s still a lot of football to be played.”
“There was a break right at the start for internationals,” continued Basham, highlighting unusual kick-off times, lack of crowds and truncated summer break as contributory factors. “The games are all so tight and then someone gets a goal and, for some reason now, you can see people find it easier to shut up shop.
“So much has happened and I think you can see it’s having an effect right the way across (the division). You’ll see people peaking and then hitting troughs at totally different times to what would usually be the case. So, if we remember that and stay tight as a group, I definitely believe we can still do it.”
A member of the squads which gained promotion from League One and then the Championship following Wilder’s appointment in the summer of 2016, Basham hopes to celebrate his latest career landmark by helping United secure their first win since returning to action in September when they visit Selhurst Park.
Asked why a group of players which finished ninth last season has struggled so badly of late, Basham admitted: “It’ tough because I come away from a game thinking what’s gone wrong? Very often it’s just come down to a bounce of a ball or a brilliant finish. I do analyse a lot and there’s actually things we’ve done better this year than we did last year. A big thing for us isn’t having fans inside the grounds, so maybe it’s that and going into all the different lockdowns.
"If any bunch of lads can prove people wrong, because we know what they’re all saying, then it’s this bunch.”