Sheffield United fan column: Going back a long way to recall the same defensive solidity the Blades are now showing
The last time I remember United going on a run of defensive solidity like this one was in the 1995/96 season after Howard Kendall took over from Dave Bassett.
With no money and no boardroom leadership, United were sinking fast in Bassett’s last days before Mike McDonald at last got a deal done with Reg Brealey and bought him out.
McDonald later went off the rails but his first year in charge transformed the club.
His first move was to bring in Kendall, who turned over the playing staff, selling his most valuable player Nathan Blake in order to strengthen the rest of the squad.
One of those he signed – on loan – was the late Gary Ablett, once of both Liverpool and Everton.
He also signed another centre half, Michael Vonk, right back Chris Short, contrasting midfielders Mark Patterson, Gordon Cowans and Don Hutchison and strikers Andy Walker, Gareth Taylor and Brett Angell.
United were still in trouble in late February but a nervy 1-0 win over Barnsley set them on their way.
The record from this game on was P14 W9 D4 L1 F18 A4 Pts31, exactly the same number of points United gained in the first 32 games.
It was a bit like the current defence, in that it didn’t matter who played because Kendall had them so well drilled.
Mitch Ward and Short shared time at right back and Dougie Hodgson – who Kendall improved beyond all recognition – and Vonk were interchangeable at centre half.
But that team’s most clean sheets in a row was four.
I don’t know when a United team last went seven without conceding.
This run will come to an end, but hopefully it’s when we’re already 5-0 up.