James Shield’s Sheffield United Column: Matt made an important contribution

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He won’t go down in Sheffield United history as the most celebrated defender ever to wear the famous red and white stripes.

Confirmation earlier this week that Nigel Clough has decided against awarding him a new contract is unlikely to unleash almighty hell among the League One club’s support.

But, make no mistake, Matt Hill leaves a big hole for someone to fill at Bramall Lane.

Why? Because, first and foremost, he is a damn good pro’.

Given the 33-year-old’s ability to perform a variety of roles across the back four and, it must be said, perform them well, some commentators, myself included, were slightly surprised to learn that his services were not going to be retained next season. Especially given that Clough has made it perfectly clear that he prefers working with a small but flexible squad.

Nevertheless, the United manager is a shrewder judge of what it takes to build a successful team than Yours Truly although, after a few pints down my local, I could tell Jose Mourinho a thing or two about how to get the best out of his players.

Also, it must be said, Clough is more aware of the possibilities which might present themselves when the transfer market reopens for business next month. And how some of those will compliment those options already at his disposal.

Hill’s persona, however, should ensure that he quickly finds employment. Win, lose or draw, even when deep inside you knew he was hurting, a smile was always painted across his face.

Which, in an era when so many footballers give you the impression that earning a few grand a week fulfilling their boyhood dreams is a complete and utter burden, makes him a welcome antidote to the baseball cap, sullen expression and big headphones brigade.

Doubtless Hill’s attitude and selfless approach behind the scenes has helped United bounce back from some crushing disappointments in recent seasons, not to mention stave off the threat of relegation last term.

Fortunately, he isn’t (wasn’t) the only member of United’s dressing room to possess those characteristics. Because every side needs a Matt Hill.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1