Why Wilson kept a close eye on White House race

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IT has boasted none of the razzmatazz patriotic fervour or sugar-coated platitudes. Doe-eyed wives who wile away the hours polishing their apple pie making skills have, thank God, been conspicuous by their absence.

But when one commentator analysing this week’s race for the White House remarked that Americans hadn’t been seduced by Barack Obama but were prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, it struck me there was at least one parallel between recent events at Bramall Lane and Capitol Hill.

Sheffield United, having registered their eighth draw of the season at Swindon on Tuesday evening, might not be an easy team to love. But, given the horrendous set of circumstances Danny Wilson inherited when he embarked upon a second season at the helm of this self-styled footballing superpower, his team deserves to be cut a bit more slack.

Change is once again being promised across the pond. Over three-and-a-half thousand miles away in the Steel City, it has been delivered in the shape of a new-look squad which travels to Milton Keynes tomorrow unbeaten over 90 minutes since April, second in the table and seemingly intent on grinding rather than beguiling its way back towards the Championship.

In truth, President Wilson was battling against the odds the minute he was catapulted into office 18 months ago. And not just because of those previous associations with Sheffield Wednesday during his managerial primary.

On paper, the players at United’s disposal last term were too good to be plying their trade in the third tier. But, with relegation gnawing away at confidence and team spirit, Wilson’s room for manoeuvre in the transfer market was limited.

Having failed to get up at the first attempt, the filibustering was over and United confronted the fiscal cliff. Six faces drafted in over the summer featured in the squad which journeyed to the County Ground with new financial measures meaning many of those, while possessing great potential, are far from the finished articles.

Okay, so pledges from United’s staff that they would once again look to overwhelm opponents have not been kept but, as Mario Cuomo once said, you campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Which makes some of the criticism being aimed at the club, including one bizarrely downbeat letter to the Green ‘Un last week, impossible to fathom.

United might not be pretty. But they are pretty damn effective. Two places higher than they were at the same stage of the competition last term and conceding an average of less than a goal per game whilst still enjoying plenty of room for improvement.

The art of good management, especially in the lower leagues, is devising practical solutions to real problems. Not becoming a prisoner of principle or conducting grand philosophical debates.

Those who argue that Wilson has in some way failed, irrespective of the result at Stadium mk, are in danger of making fools of themselves.

Can Danny deliver? Yes, he can.