“IT just flies by. There’s so much going on you really can’t take everything in.
“You’re focused because you have to react. But when the time comes to talk about what’s happened, it really is just a blur.”
The words of one local manager when asked by yours truly to describe what it is like to take charge of a team in a play-off final.
Occasions when just a single slip, misplaced pass or dubious piece of decision-making can wreck nine months worth of otherwise sterling work.
If tomorrow’s League One showpiece between Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town promises to be an excruciating experience for supporters, then spare a thought for those tortured souls patrolling the technical area.
Danny Wilson and Simon Grayson. Two likeable guys who, despite appearing calm and composed on the surface, will be going through absolute agony inside.
Big games can hinge on small details. Momentous matches settled by minutiae.
Hence the fact that, despite seeming remarkably relaxed during their respective media conferences, both camps will have spent the past fortnight preparing in methodical, obsessive fashion.
Even if it is trying to perform the impossible task of persuading players that an outing at Wembley is nothing out of the ordinary.
Because, when referee Roger East gets the action underway, there will be little room for major adjustments.
The fact that, since these affairs became one-off encounters rather being settled over two or even three legs, over 80 per cent of the eventual winners have opened the scoring only serves to remind the importance of making a strong start.
United, of course, finished one place and nine points ahead of Grayson’s charges in the table. Over the course of 46 fixtures, they emerged as the better team.
Circumstances, though, have conspired to dramatically change the footballing landscape at Bramall Lane of late and given Wilson much more to chew over than his counterpart.
Having once been able to overwhelm opponents with their firepower, United’s attacking options have been reduced significantly in recent weeks. Hence, their change of approach during a gruelling semi-final with Stevenage.
Previously conservative in terms of tactics and formations, Wilson unveiled a dramatically different system for those meetings with Gary Smith’s side having concluded a tried and tested 4-4-2 would not bring the best out of those still at his disposal.
It worked a treat, confirming that, far from being one-trick ponies, United’s squad possess a cerebral edge.
Wilson would almost certainly have preferred not to make the switch. Intriguingly, though, the issues overshadowing United’s preparations could also give them an element of surprise.
Do United once again ask Chris Porter to plough a lone furrow up front? Or should Richard Cresswell, fitness permitting, return?
Likewise Kevin McDonald.
Dilemmas Grayson will be attempting to second guess tonight.