Kevin Gage's Sheffield United Column: Let's leave the ignorant pundits to wallow in their ignorance while this Blades side continues to hit new heights in the Premier League
FANTASTICO! MAGINIFICA! BRAVO! to our brilliant, beloved, ‘Barcelona’ Blades!
After the usually dour, hard-to-please, seen-it-all-done-it-all TV pundit Graeme Souness described Sheffield United as playing like Barcelona at times, I though it would be appropriate this week to start with some Spanish words!
He is, of course, absolutely spot on in his assessment of the performance against Manchester United, as it truly was quite breathtaking, outstanding, and loads of other superlatives that I could use to accurately describe it!
Souness, by the way, knows a good team when he sees one. He’s played, captained and managed a few as well, winning trophies and medals galore all over Europe. He wants a season ticket at Bramall Lane? It’s the hottest ticket in town Graeme, get in the queue!
So yes, we welcomed the mighty Man Utd into town, and to be brutally honest, they were very lucky to leave with their dignity intact. If you’re reading this, you’re a Blades fan and so saw the events unfold, probably rubbing your eyes in disbelief at what was happening along the way, though for vastly different reasons as the game evolved.
The first half ranks as probably the best display I have EVER seen from a Sheffield United team. We were unplayable at times and ran experienced international superstars ragged, as wave after wave of attacks swarmed forward from all areas of the pitch. Without David De Gea in goal, the game would have been done and dusted and all over as a contest at the break.
The save from John Lundstram’s shot low to his right was superb, only to be followed seconds later by an even better one to keep out David McGoldrick’s header. We needed a goal. We got one and should have had a couple more to be honest, but went in at half-time deliriously happy anyway. It couldn’t get any better than this could it…surely?
Guess what? It did. We kept playing at a ferocious speed and with brilliant technique, passing and moving around bewildered Man U players. The combination play down the left especially was a joy to behold. The Moose capped off a brilliant individual display with a top quality controlled strike from 20 yards past De Gea and it was 2-0 and game over…surely?
Well, as we all now know, Man Utd finally found some class. We tired a touch, sat back a bit, lost our attacking threat with it, and after three Man U attacks of quality in a frantic seven minutes we found ourselves a goal down! Cue despair, doom and despondancy all around the ground. There was no way back now was there? It was game over, again….surely?
Fortunately, these United players are made of sterner stuff than the vast majority of us fans watching and somehow lifted themselves from the huge body blows of the three goals to press forward again in those last 10 minutes.
We started to knock the ball around in a Barcelona-esque style again and following some good possession, an inch perfect Ollie Norwood pass found Enda Stevens who ‘nutmegged’ (he’s getting good at these!) his defender and slid the ball across goal. Callum Robinson sorted his feet out in a blur, scooped the ball to Oli McBurnie and seconds later, following an amazing piece of control and instinctive finishing, the ball was in the back of De Gea’s net!
Cue celebration and pandemonium, followed by VAR apprehension & frustration, followed by VAR realisation and decision, followed by more celebration and pandemonium! Quite amazing.
This game had it all. It was the Premier League at is absolute finest and Sheffield United, Bramall Lane, the players and every single fan played a full part. A global TV audience of hundreds of millions will have seen our team take on one of the most glamourous, famous and richest team in the world as equals and, quite frankly, tear them apart for three quarters of the game.
The football world is waking up to the realisation of what a superb football team we are, and even the Danny Mills, Garth Crooks, and Charlie Nichola- type TV pundits, who have lazily dismissed us as ‘basic’, ‘4-4-2 direct’ and ‘will struggle’ must now surely change their tune. But do you know what? Who cares?
We’ll just leave them behind to wallow in their ignorance as we keep hitting new heights of excellence and inspiring a new generation of football fans to watch and support our Blades team ‘playing proper football, the Sheffield United way’ – and singing the songs to match.
Talking of songs, with Souness comparing us to Barcelona, maybe it’s time to ditch the “ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ” words? Maybe it’s time for “OLE OLE OLE”?… the song that is, not the Man U manager!
We’re keeping Chris Wilder, thanks!
Kevin Gage owns The Manor House hotel/bar/café, High Street, Dronfield. Follow him on Twitter: @gageykev