Nominative Determinism: Dem Shoulda Been Blades
Joe Clift composes the ultimate 16-man squad of players who, regardless of ability, have had the moral, name-given right to play for the Blades
These lockdown weeks have forced us to get creative to feed that football fix. My nostalgia dive involves revisiting the early Championship Manager games. Plenty are easily downloadable online, though for the purists you can dust down the Amiga 500, fire up the '93 game, dig out that '94 update disk, and hope the whole thing doesn’t self-combust.
Before even sorting through the United squad, I’d always sign Paul Blades and Jon Sheffield. They immediately stood out – their names almost made it impolite to not make them United players. Would Billy Sharp have been drawn to United or to the Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra had he been called Billy Harp?
With this footballing nominative determinism in mind then, here is a full/tenuous Dem Shoulda Been Blades lineup.
1. Jon Sheffield
Sheffield’s chances of getting to the Lane were sadly hampered by Tracey and Kelly vying for the jersey, so instead he had to settle for a career mostly at Cambridge, Peterborough, and Plymouth.
2. Paul Blades (c)
Not signing Blades represents the single biggest oversight in Dave Bassett’s managerial career. Rather than rejoin the resurgent Blades, Blades instead joined Norwich in 1990. 2 years later he joined Wolves, the Blades nowhere near Blades again.
3. Bobby “Captain Cutlass” Shearer
Skippering Rangers over a ten year period in the '50s and '60s, the Scottish international full-back got his nickname for what’s been described as a “particularly fierce-tackling and combative style”. So a bit of a dirty player, you’d assume.
4. Hugo Magnetti
The young French midfielder is at Brest in Ligue 2. Magnetti attracted the attention of the FIFA 20 makers, who gave him a rating of 61. Should surely be signed so when indicating it’s the midfielder’s ball, Lys Mousset can yell “ballon of Magnetti”.
5. Sven Kopp
What can be said about the 25-year-old German centre-back currently at SpVgg Bayreuth in the fourth tier of German football? Well, he’s 6’6, so you’d imagine Kopp would head away from the Kop quite effectively.
6. Razor Ruddock
It’s a shame that Neil Ruddock, best known for breaking both of Andy Cole’s legs in a reserve game, never enhanced his nickname at the Lane. A regret displayed last August as Razor gave a passionate rendition of the GCB song in front of his TV.
7. Daniel Bramall
Bramall, born in Sheffield, would surely follow an obvious path. Alas, the Everton graduate trialled last year across the city. Fortunately, the right-winger ended up instead at non-league Buxton. Hates his name being misspelt Bramhall.
8. Rubén de la Red (and White)
Before sadly retiring early, de la R&W had a couple of spells at Real that sandwiched a season at Getafe, and scored once in three caps for Spain. Gives this lineup some very tenuous, and colourful, Spanish flair.
9. Saber Khalifa
Saber is a Tunisian international striker. The 33 year old is seeing out the end of his career with with Club Africain in Tunisia, denying us headlines in The Star such as “Saber Gives Blades Cutting Edge”.
10. Tommy Sword
A Stockport County '80s legend. In contrast to the usual centre-back-to-striker converts, Sword was thrust in the opposite direction. As a bigger target man type when a striker, Sword would surely have been a perfect foil for Saber.
11. Paul Cutler
This little-known Palace left-winger from the mid-'60s failed to cut a career in professional football, spending most of it in non-league. Believed to be the inspiration for the short-lived assistant to Captain Blade in the 09/10 season, “Mr. Cutler”.
Jason Steele (unrelated)
A footballer actually called John Street
Felix Magath (if pronounced in a very particular way). Would likely drop Magnetti without reason.