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View from behind the pillar: We're not ready


The sometimes authorative and often irreverant Blades blog.


We're not ready

We’re not ready for the clap-happy circus of the Premier League. At least, I am not anyway.

The national media wrote 112 articles about Sheffield United during our last stint in the top flight. Between our promotion and now, 398 have been published. [1]


On our trip back to the top flight, we've travelled a long, long way — a journey from Roman times to the Space Age, and I'm still wearing a toga. I am not ready for the hyper-space waffle of bedroom 'journalists'. Unprepared for the in-the-know accounts pinging transfer dealing onto my timeline like a laser gun.


We have enough morons to deal with inside the club without Andrew from Plymouth, 19 and a Man U fan, likes all things football, Nandos and purple-sprouting Blockchain, telling me that Dean Henderson won't be coming back to the Lane.


It gets even worse when Andrew decides to type up his wild theory into an article that reads: '3 reasons why Dean Henderson will not sign for Sheffield United'. It might be his first foray into journalism but might I posit, in the heady days of Ceefax, it would've been his last.


But this is what the internet is full of, and I'm just not ready for it. Are you? (You'll say, "ignore it", but it's not that easy.)


Anyhow, if the eye-popping cynicism found here hasn't repelled you yet, then do read on. What follows are my thoughts on the summer so far...


Friendlies


Did you know that Chris Wilder held an open training session last week?


It took place in sun-drenched Portgual, and he invited supporters to watch from the sidelines as the Sheffield United players prepared for the season ahead — you know the session. The one on the astroturf where 'Terror Tuesday' took place, where fans snapped selfies with their heroes. Well, I am not talking about that one. What I am referring to is the fixture with Real Betis.




Burton Albion too. OPEN TRAINING SESSION. What we can learn from these games can be distilled down into, he scored, they scored; he looked fit, he looked fat; that new signing looks alright. But none of this really means to tell us anything about what the Blades will do come August 10th. The key 'take aways' are a) it looked like the players had a bit of fun in Potrugal b) so did the fans. And I'm all for talking up the frivolities.


Beer. Pals. 9 substitions. Good evening all around except for the odd moan from the bloke behind. He could twist his knickers into whatever shape he wanted over the loss to the Brewers; it doesn't matter. Whether we win, lose or draw friendlies, the result is pretty meaningless.


Which reminds me...

The least meaningless friendly - or should I put it, the most meaningful friendly - was Spurs at home in 2004. The Tottenham manager Jacques Santini (remember him?) included Robbie Keane and Jamie Redknapp in the starting line up. Keane scored early doors. His pace and power and finishing made our striker, Barry Hayles, look like...well, Barry Hayles.


The meaningful moment to which I refer came after Jonathan Forte entered the fray in the 61st minute. By the 67th minute, he'd lobbed goalkeeper Kasey Keller, leaving the American international as stranded as Ben Gunn. A friend, who was/is a Wednesday fan and was sat next to me, inadvertently cheered. REPEAT: a friend who is a Wednesday fan instinctively cheered a Blades goal.

That was meaningful — Burton, Betis...they say little to me about Premier League preparations.


(See the line-up from that Spurs game in the footnotes.[2])

Signings


Chris Wilder has signed players that he believes are either:

  • Good enough to step up

  • Have already stepped up

  • If they aren't good enough, they cost us FA


They are typically Wilderish signings, summed up best by reggae legend, Bob Marley. Marley wrote:

And who the cap fit

Let them wear it

And who the cap fit

Let them wear it

Said I throw me corn (throw me corn)


That's it, right? The cap fits Luke Freeman, Phil Jagielka, Callum Robinson and Ravel Morrison. Wilder trusts them and therefore, so do I.


Until the cap fits Neal Maupay or Oli McBurnie or Dean Henderson or the Sun Dance Kid, then I'll reserve judgement. Speculation is shell-to-the-ear stuff. Echo chamber. Until they don the red and white, ...meh.


Those that have signed up already, I like, rather a lot too. Here's my elevator pitch for each of 'em.


Luke Freeman | Has run rings around Blades' defences from the doldrums of League One, right through to our promotion season. Did you know, on his debut, Freeman became Gillingham's youngest first team player in their history, and the youngest player ever to appear in the FA Cup?


Phil Jagielka | Risk-free nostalgia with the potential to step up when needed, and provide experience when necessary. Tear jerker. Totes emosh. I'm in.


Callum Robinson | Possesses something we don't have. Shocking hair cut, and dazzling pace on the ball. Trickery too. As a friend said to me, "Robinson: new thinking, new jinking".


Ravel Morrison | There are more questions than answers here. But all the questions are thrilling. Whether he can realise his potential will be the excellent sub-plot running through the forthcoming campaign. Like a Deidre storyline in Coro.


Chris Wilder | He's not a signing, but everybody has thrown that trope around: he's the most important signing of the season. Some metaphors are thrown around for a reason. This is one. Legend is another.


And, finally, a word of caution:WARINESS.


Bio: Sam, too old for this crap and from Sheffield, likes the Blades, washing up by hand, and the dawning sense that as we approach the zero-points of economic and ecological crisis, that the Blades could be in the top flight when it all burns.



[1] Unverified, 2019


[2] Line-ups: 4-4-2: Sheffield United: Kenny, Francis, Wright (Quinn, 45), Jagielka, Morgan, Thirlwell (Sharp, 80), Liddell (Forte, 61), Tonge (Ross, 80), Gray (Montgomery, 61), Hayles (Ward, 61), Harley. Subs: Barnes, Bromby, Ndlovu.


Spurs: 4-5-1: Keller, Kelly (Carr, 80), King (Gardner, 45), Richards, Bunjevcevic (McKie, 45), Mabizela, Redknapp (Hughes, 57), Davis, Jackson (Ricketts, 67), Yeates, Keane (Malcolm, 45). Subs: Fulop, Mendes, Doherty, Defoe.

Attendance: 8,788

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