It’s an unusual feeling knowing that when United are losing it doesn’t necessarily mean they will lose the match.
We haven’t felt that for about five years. 1-0 down at half time used to mean almost inevitable defeat occasionally punctuated by a draw.
The team now doesn’t panic in the knowledge that they possess the quality to turn the game around as part of a line-up that is unrecognisable from those of recent seasons in terms of organisation and – I’ve said it several times before – knowing what they are doing.
One small incident in the second half at Chesterfield summed that up. Jake Wright was attacking down the left in conjunction with Dan Lafferty and Matt Done. While this was happening Chris Basham stayed back. The ball was then played across the field to Kieron Freeman. As soon as this happened Wright dropped back and Basham came up in support of Freeman.
They didn’t need telling by the manager to do this. It was only a simple thing, but it said a lot.
Chris Wilder also asked for goals from all over the team. All managers want this, but it doesn’t often happen.
Aside from Billy Sharp, who is way out in front, Scougall and Chapman have four, Freeman, Basham, Ebanks-Blake and Clarke have three, Done and Duffy two and Wilson, Lafferty, O’Connell, Coutts and Fleck one each. Only Jake Wright and Caolan Lavery of the regulars have not scored. All Freeman’s goals have been from the six-yard line; he and Lafferty are revelling in their roles that allow them to get forward more or less as often as they like.
Another fact that might be pertinent is that United are the only team to have played the other three in the top four, all of them away – one defeat, two draws.
Bradford City drew at Bolton Wanderers; Scunthorpe United have yet to play Bolton or Bradford City. All of them have still to come to Bramall Lane.