Kevin Gage's Sheffield United Column: Forget VAR for the time being... let's talk about the brilliant Blades and everything positive about this great Premier League club

*Thinks...* Try not to talk about VAR… Try not to talk about VAR… Try not to talk about VAR...

Monday, 11th November 2019, 4:09 pm
Updated Monday, 11th November 2019, 4:44 pm
Kevin Gage Column

Another game, another top-class Sheffield United performance, and most importantly, another point on that road to the 40 (ish) point mark that usually guarantees survival in the Premier League. (Actually, the average number of points needed over the past 22 years is 36.6 but let’s not get too pedantic about it eh?)

Let’s not talk about VAR. Let’s talk about a quite wonderful, controlled team performance, with everyone to a man doing their jobs, and most doing them exceptionally well too. Let’s talk about going to a genuine top six, ‘big’ club, who were in the Champions League final a few months ago, and at times playing them off the park.

Let’s not talk about VAR. Let’s talk about creating by far the best chances in the first half to potentially be 2-0 up at the break and about still creating chance after chance in a second half where we found ourselves a goal down to a very scrappy unfortunate series of hesitations and a deflection. Let’s talk about this team’s never-say-die attitude and the fact that when they need to dig in, get forward and take the game to the opposition, they do so.

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Let’s not talk about VAR. Let’s talk about just what an absolute machine John Lundstram is. He always has been though, hasn’t he? He hasn’t got fitter or stronger I’ll bet over these past couple of seasons he’s been with us.

It just looks as if he has because he’s now found his feet in the team, been given his opportunity in a role that suits him to a tee, and is growing in confidence with every game. With the way we are now playing, we need runners to break into the box from midfield and him and John Fleck are driving forward and doing just that.

With Chris Basham also popping up occasionally in there when the opposition least expect it, it’s a fabulous system! Lundstram is a revelation, simple as.

Let’s not talk about VAR. Let’s talk about our new striker who has been unleashed on the Premier League and is charging about creating all sorts of havoc! Let’s talk about our ‘Moose on the loose’ Lys Mousset!

He certainly looks every inch the player we had heard about and had the potential to be. At £10m he appears to be an absolute bargain for this division, if there is such a thing these days. I’m hearing he’s not even yet fully match fit!

Whatever his fitness level at the moment, I’ll take it thanks very much as he has pace, strength, an eye for a goal, a decent touch on the ball, and here’s the key thing for me…. a real DESIRE to work hard, get in the channels and get on the end of balls we play forward. We’ll be talking a great deal more about him this season, I hope.

Let’s not talk about VAR. Let’s talk about how good our two wing-backs are playing this year. Lets talk about how they’ve taken to the Premier League like ducks to water. George Baldock always had the energy, agility and speed to cope in this division and his defensive work was always sound. But he’s a new man this year going forward with his dribbles, his willingness to take men on and his deliveries when he gets deep into the opposition final third. His link-up play with his right side partners Lundstram and Basham is superb. So that Baldock covered. Let’s talk about his other wing back team mate.

Let’s not talk about VAR. Let’s talk about having, in my opinion, the BEST left full back/wing back in the Premier League. I watched Liverpool’s Andy Robertson on Sunday against Manchester City and he’s a good player indeed, but I think Enda Stevens is currently better than him, and all the others I’ve seen - either on TV or in the flesh.

David McGoldrick celebrates scoring a goal before it was ruled out by VAR following nearly four minutes of dithering during the Premier League match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London: James Wilson/Sportimage

His left foot is like a wand as he strokes the ball around effortlessly and his crossing has reached new heights of excellence in both timing and delivery. On Saturday we got two different examples of the type of top-quality balls he’s he delivering into the penalty area. The first one before the break was an early whipped ball from wide left as he saw Lundstram’s forward run.

It was curled in, at the right height and with perfect weight, and with a better finish JL7 could have had his fourth goal of the season. In the second half his other one was the slide-rule pass across the six yard line that David McGoldrick slid home, but was then ruled out for offside…(Remember, let’s not talk about VAR). His composure on the ball is tremendous, he gets a ‘nutmeg’ just about every game he plays now and his interplay with both Jack O’Connell and John Fleck mirrors that on the right hand side in being quite wonderful.

So we’ve mentioned him now, so it’s time to talk about David McGoldrick, and to do so without mentioning VAR! We all know he’s missed a few chances this season, but how cruel was it for him to have a perfectly good goal ruled out?

And we’ve missed him when he hasn’t played as he now provides that link between the midfield and the attack. I wrote a few weeks ago that if we are not playing with two midfielders and someone in the ‘No10’ role as in previous years, then we lose a bit of creativity in there.

Enda Stevens and Chris Basham of Sheffield Utd: James Wilson/Sportimage

Step forward ‘Didzy’ who provides that link perfectly, roams around the pitch intelligently offering himself up to receive the ball, and still has the instinct and desire (yes that word again) to get into the goal-scoring positions he does. He’ll get his first Premier League goal very soon, believe me.

So finally, let’s not talk about VAR. Let’s talk about a Sheffield United team that is currently one place in the league behind Manchester City. Let’s talk about this being the best Sheffield United team in a generation…certainly my generation anyway.

Let’s talk about Sheffield United playing some of the best football I’ve ever witnessed in my time as a Blades player and now as a fan. Let’s talk about how good these times must be for a new generation of younger fans who are being brought up to witness this and to interact with the club on so many different levels.

Let’s leave all the negativity about VAR behind for this week and focus on everything positive about this great football club, its brilliant management and staff, and its top-quality players.

The VAR issue can wait. We’re fifth in the Premier League, and we’ll be there this time next week too. Enjoy it... and let’s leave the VAR until I talk about it then!

Sheffield United's George Baldock (left) and Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane battle for the ball: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire.