Sheffield United Fan Column: Millwall draw made some doubt if United’s players can handle the promotion pressure – and they have to disprove that theory without three key players
I can’t remember the last time you could see so far in advance exactly what was going to happen.
As each minute passed United looked increasingly nervous. With nerves come mistakes and poor decisions.
There were reasons (the loss of Chris Basham and Billy Sharp), but not excuses.
To his credit, Chris Wilder didn’t look for any, except the blatant foul on David McGoldrick with a minute left, but by that time the die was cast and the conclusion was inevitable.
It was evident in the first minutes of the second half that Wilder had told his players to get the ball forward quicker than they hitherto had done, as first Enda Stevens crossed immediately instead of forming triangles on the left, then Jack O’Connell played a long diagonal ball from his own half.
The problem was that as soon as United scored that policy went south. Wilder’s post-match comments were, as always, bang in tune with what the supporters had observed.
Passing backwards, dropping off, not challenging the man on the ball, inviting a desperate team to push men forward.
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And when two of them are the huge Tom Elliott and Jake Cooper there are going to be problems if you let the opposition cross the ball unopposed.
The penalty miss was fate’s mischievous way of tricking us into thinking it was all going to be OK, but most Blades fans didn’t fall into this trap and were entirely aware of what was to come.
Does this calamity demonstrate that United can’t handle the pressure?
Perhaps so – none of them have been in this position before.
And they’re going to have to prove this wrong without three of the team’s most important players.