Sheffield United: James Shield’s weekly column

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SAFE to say the only thing predictable about League One this season is its unpredictability.

The division nobody apparently wants to win, where teams at the top of the rankings can drop points with the same regularity as those

languishing towards the bottom, continues to frustrate and enthrall in equal measure.

Danny Wilson, speaking before last weekend’s round of games, was quick to dismiss suggestions that some of those clubs looking to strike for the front had done Sheffield United a favour by failing to win.

“Nobody does anyone else any favours,” he admonished one reporter. “This is professional football and it’s ruthless.

“The only people you look out for are your own.”

Doubtless the United manager thought exactly the same thing when Swindon Town, Yeovil and Tranmere failed to emerge from the peloton on Tuesday evening although Brentford, who beat Kevin MacDonald’s side at Griffin Park, are now lurking ominously a place behind the South Yorkshire outfit in third.

Just like the Tour de France, the race for the Championship will be decided by tactics, attention to detail and, given a gruelling fixture calendar, resolve, guts and character.

The ability to put mind over matter.

United, who enjoyed an unexpected rest day in midweek when their match at Crewe Alexandra was postponed, face an especially demanding programme having rescheduled their visit to Gresty Road for April 23rd.

Finishing their bid for promotion with five matches in just 15 days is far from ideal. Not least because an injury which might only rule someone out of action for one game could suddenly force them to miss two or three.

But it is manageable. Just. And makes it even more important that United follow Wilson’s lead by looking out for themselves.

Especially in disciplinary terms. Errors of judgement or tough calls by referees do not feature within United’s sphere of influence.

But with two players - Tony McMahon and Kevin McDonald - one caution away from suspension and Harry Maguire just three it would be foolish to collect bookings for dissent.

After all, venting your spleen at an official isn’t an indication of passion. Nor does it serve any discernible purpose because I’ve yet to see a decision reversed because the man-in-the-middle has been called “a *$£@*%” or “&**@.”

Other sports seem able to manage pretty well. So why not football?

Wilson, born and bred in the rugby league mad town of Wigan, recently revealed his admiration for the self-control shown in the 13 man code which, it must be said, suffers from some pretty bizarre rulings despite the benefit of video reviews.

United, whatever the provocation or perceived injustice, must show similar respect and restraint between now and the end of the campaign.

Because you never know. A top two finish might just depend upon it.

*Twitter: JamesShield1