Boro Blast Blades

Last updated : 11 April 2011 By deadbat_db

Sheffield United's fans and players alike are now almost certainly resigned to League One football next season after they conceded a late goal to lose at home to Middlesbrough at Bramall Lane. The Blades had fought back from a goal down to level and had enjoyed most of the territorial advantage after this but poor finishing and more wretched defending saw them contrive to throw away another game and with the other results at the bottom of the league; United are now rock bottom both in terms of their status in the league table and their hopes for the future. It really is desperate times for the Bramall Lane faithful with little hope or excitement outside of the promising youth side that performed so admirably in the week. With no sign of investment, managerial improvements or changes for the better in the playing squad it is hard to see where the Blades go from here.

United were without Nick Montgomery who had become a father recently and the injured Ched Evans and began with Lowton in the centre of midfield and Lowry back in the heart of the defence. Darius Henderson made his first start at the Lane for around a year and was given the captains armband and was supplanted by Bogdanovic and Riise in a 4-3-3 formation.

Middlesbrough won a corner in the opening minute but it came to nothing before United mounted their first attack with Riise hitting a low shot straight at Smith. United forced a couple of corners of their own but were unable to create a clear chance with one corner going straight across the goal eluding Lowton and then the same man having an effort blocked in a crowd of players. Henderson ought to have done better with a header off target and United had been shading the early proceedings. However, Bailey came through and had a shot blocked and then after Collins's header did not get enough distance; the ball was switched to BATES who hit a low shot beyond Simonsen.

United hit back and tried to get back into the game and had numerous efforts on goal with Henderson again off target with a header and then Doyle's shot was deflected wide. Henderson was able to flick on a long throw but the ball was scrambled clear but the Blades did get level after good work from Riise. The winger made space and sent over a deep cross from the left. LOWTON came onto the ball and headed downwards and the ball went into the next via Smith who could not keep it out. United were deservedly level after going behind slightly against the run of play but Boro had another chances just before half time when Simonsen spilt McDonald's low shot and the resultant corner also was nearly converted in a melee of bodies. A flurry of bookings came just before the break as Mattock halted Boro as they broke and then a cynical foul from Williams saw him carded too. The final booking came when Bennett went down in the box but it was clear there was no question of a penalty being awarded and the Boro man was booked for simulation.

The second half saw United have appeals for a spot kick but these were also more in hope as Bodanovic twice went down theatrically in the box. Mattock finally made Smith work when he hit a long range shot that was pushed away and then Collins was woefully off target from a corner not long after. Bailey had a low shot wide but United were the side in the ascendancy even if they were not creating many clear cut chances. They did finally create a chance after their best move of the game with Bogdanovic and Riise involved but Lowton's shot was blocked inside the box and the visitors cleared the ball as it dropped. Boro hit back and had two great chances of their own with a nice crisp move leading to a pull back from Hines to McMahon that Simonsen turned around the post but then not long after the keeper made a wonderful save from point blank range to deny Williams when it seemed like it was goal bound. Bent came on for Nosworthy and operated on the right of the attack with Lowton going back to full back and then soon after United missed a golden chance to take the lead. Riise's cross was touched on by Bent and Henderson seemed set to score but somehow contrived to head over the bar from 3 yards out with not a marker in sight and the keeper scrambling across his goal. Yeates came on to play on the left replacing Bogdanovic whose threat had now diminished somewhat but the wingers first contribution was to run the ball out. Lowry was booked for a foul on the edge of the box but McMahon's effort was well wide before Tonne came on for the Blades replacing Doyle as United sought the crucial winner.

With the game entering the final 2 minutes disaster struck. Henderson lost possession and the ball was put forward from Arca and dissected the United backline. EMNES ran on and threaded the ball past Simonsen with ease and the large visiting following were sent into raptures behind the goal. There was 5 minutes of stoppage time; but United did not muster any effort on goal and will surely have been disappointed that keeper Smith had only had one save to make the whole second half and indeed other than a few tame efforts in the first half he had been largely untroubled for most of the game. The referee's full time whistle signalled another home defeat for the Blades and surely time is almost up on their hopes of survival as they slipped to the bottom of the Championship table.

Boro - I tipped them to win the league at the start of the season! Shows what I know. Seems things have just gone wrong and like us they have been through numerous managers over the last few years and despite many of them Southgate, Strachan and Mowbray having pretty good reputations; it does not seem to have clicked for any. It is remarkable they are near the bottom with some of the players they do have but also losses of players such as Wheater and O'Neill since Xmas have not helped. Maybe some of the Scottish players are finding the English league tougher than the patsies that the SPL serves up for Rangers and Celtic on a weekly basis. However, I still thought the likes of McDonald, McManus, Boyd etc would have done better than they have done. Boyd of course has been loaned out but I look at other players such as Bailey, Lita etc and they should be doing far better. Of course the crowds have really dwindled up there and it seems much of the momentum of the glory years of Juninho, Ravanelli et al has been lost. Gibson has ploughed millions in and even in recent years he has still put money in but there has been a lot of talent leave such as Viduka, Yakubu etc and they have never recovered from going down. Of course a lot depends on Gibson and if he still wants to put more in as undoubtedly with the parachute payments stopping next year they should have to cut back like we did. If he takes McCabe's approach then they could do what we have done quite quickly.

Today I felt they were really poor and for the beating; like so many other teams we have played but we conceded daft goals and could not score. It was that simple. In general play and possession they were actually inferior to us for long spells but were ruthless when it mattered. They actually were settling for a point at the end so it was even more galling when they broke and scored but that is how it has gone for United. They did not pass the ball well, probably lost as many if not more 50/50's and at the back looked susceptible. Still for all this they still tested our keeper as much as we did theirs and would have argued they deserved a point maybe. This was somewhat of a smash and grab job but you take your chances and this was so similar to a lot of other games/teams that have come down here.

Their actual team was a bit of a mish-mash and a long way from the one they would have expected to be the side getting them back into the Premiership (the keeper Smith has been the third choice keeper for Forest this season. They had a lot of young players in the line up that had come through their academy but left talent like Arca on the bench. I like Bailey who gets up and down and reminds me a bit of Quinn (but with more goals) and Emnes looked lively up front and took his goal well.

Outside of Bailey, McDonald and McManus most of the team were kids that have come though and were a far more inexperienced outfit than the side we had out; yet still saw us off and then snatched it at the death.

United - Cannot fault the effort and determination of the team and for the most part we were as good if not a shade better than the opposition but once again we could not defend and could not put the ball in the net when we did have chances. We put together a few nice moves and at times had a few chances but we never looking in total control of the game and I always felt like we would concede rather than score due to the defensive naivety we have shown all year and the inability to create and convert chances at the other end.

The game was fairly even with maybe United slightly on top in the first half and then bang; a mistake and it is 0-1. We get level not long after and then we are the better side and have chances but cannot take them. If anything the best chances still came to Boro in the second half and but for Simonsen they could have been ahead. Still, the game seemed poised for a draw when another poor mistake saw them go straight down the middle and win the game. It reminded me of many other goals; such as the one conceded against Reading at the Lane when Long went straight down the middle from an innocuous through ball.

Crucially whilst not awful in general play we are pretty unremarkable in our overall play and being so average means you have to be ruthless at both ends. We simply are not; conceding stupid goals for fun and failing to take chances when we have them. We lack goals from anywhere with no striker of note who can score regularly, no midfield threat in goals and then at the back we are so slow and easy to turn; any strikers with pace and a willingness to run into channels will get chances and goals.
Lowry and Collins are so slow it is untrue and the full backs get into awful positions. In midfield we have little creativity save for flashes from Riise and Quinn; with Doyle offering nothing whatsoever. Up front Henderson was not able to get beyond defenders being a stationery target most of the time and when he had chances he spurned them badly. Bogdanovic is not someone who will be up for the battle and drifts in and out of games. Overall whilst most of the players do their best they are not good enough and allied to poor coaching and management (not just Adams/Cork but previous managers/coaches too) we seem totally unable to stop the same things happening at both ends of the pitch.

We are now down. There is no doubt of that. Those saying we still have a chance are kidding themselves. We need to think about next year and start planning. My own personal opinion is this management team has shown nothing to convince me they can take this club forward. Yes, they were in a mess when he came but he has made things worse in terms of results and position. Also, he has saddled the club with players such as Collins and Doyle; two players as abject as they come. However, they probably cannot afford to pay him off so he will probably remain. This worries me as his decisions, selections, signings, tactics have been very poor. His record in results is appalling. I do think if the board were not just resigned to the fact we are going nowhere, there is no money and no hope; they would sack him at the end of the season as he deserves but the general malaise/no one gives a damn type atmosphere may just save him. I am not sure who would sack him as cannot see Birch being here, clearly Steer has no power whatsoever and McCabe is never here. Do the club even have board meetings anymore and if so is McCabe even involved? I cannot remember the last time he actually commented on the club? I know he is a tax exile and in hiding but be nice if he actually came and admitted to making an almighty **** up of things. That would be a start.

In terms of personnel I would now try and send the loans, Bent, Riise, Mattock, Parrino, Lowry etc back to their clubs. None of those are going to be part of our plans going forward so why keep them for the last few games? Getting rid of Jordan, Calve and Wright was a start but in an ideal world we should be in discussions with Simonsen, Cresswell, Taylor, Collins and Doyle to look at moving them on too. Unfortunately the players who will almost certainly be playing their last games at the Lane next month for United will be Quinn, Montgomery, Evans and Henderson. These players have had their critics but retaining these would give us a chance of at least consolidating and bottoming out next year. I can imagine all four of these players' agents will be talking to clubs now (probably at United's request) to take over their contracts when the season finishes. I would be very surprised if any of those players remain at the club after the next 5 or 6 games.

In short the squad next season will be utterly woeful (think Simonsen, Cresswell, Collins, Doyle, Yeates, Lowton as the only ones probably definitely still around) and far inferior to ********* squad that has struggled this year (and they brought additions in the summer and in January). I think next year will be as big a struggle as this year and I would gladly take mid table now. Unfortunately I fear we will be struggling to stay in the League below us this time next year. A sad incitement on what has happened at this club and a waste of all the hard work that had gone on before. McCabe's silence continues to be deafening. He clearly does not give a damn anymore and will quite happily let Birch (surely his contract will be sacrificed at the end of the year too) and Steer be his fall guys as we continue to sink further down into the abyss and the wasteland of the lower leagues. It is ironic that he will get no further money out of the club (save for a few of the academy prospects maybe) and that the club will just continue to lose money for the next few years. He may as well leave as he isn't going to ever get his money back and if he is not interested then why stay around?

The worry is for all those wanting him to go; there is no one to take on the club/his debts or invest so we are stuck. When he does go he may call in his debts and then that's it. Administration for sure and we could be in an even far worse mess than our city rivals were. I for one am really worried about the future of the club and think our very existence could be threatened. I can see nothing but a downward spiral I am afraid. This may seem ultra depressing but can anyone honestly see how we can get out of this with no money, big debts, a board that don't care, crowds that will dwindle back to mid to late 80's days and an awful squad that is burden with contracted players that are simply useless. Our management team's record is awful too and they have shown nothing to suggest they could do a 'Bassett' 20+ years ago. I really do not know where we go from here.

It all seems to be a complete mess with no one knowing quite how low we will go. Sure we do not owe masses of money to external creditors but with is haemorrhaging money week by week; crowds dropping and no sign of any external investment and exiting board members not putting funds in I cannot see anything but years and years of more misery. Of course maybe some of the Academy kids (for what it's worth there may be one or two ok players but I don't think we have any Walker or Naughton's in that set up - I have seen them 4 or 5 times so maybe not totally qualified to comment) may come through but then we would sell them for any kind of bid we receive as history has proved in the past so it is difficult to get excited about their success even though it is good to see. Be interesting to see how many are in the team in 3 years or how many made it and then got sold on?

Simonsen 7/10 - Cannot fault him for the two goals and he made one or two decent saves including a superb point blank reflex effort in the second half which had looked a certain goal. Still hesitant on crosses once again and does not command his box whatsoever but he cannot be faulted in recent weeks as he has been left totally exposed, first at QPR on Monday and again today.

Nosworthy 6/10 - Defensively I suppose he was ok and did not make any real positional/tackling/clearance mistakes but his actual distribution/touch of the ball was still erratic to say the least. He does not hide but for him and the club the end of his loan simply cannot come quick enough. I am not sure what his future holds as although I believe he has another year on his contract at Sunderland I cannot even see any Championship clubs taking him on loan after this performances this season which shows he is not even up to it at this level anymore.

Lowry 5.5/10 - He was better than Collins but he too was not altogether convincing. He at least tries to clear the ball and put his foot through it most of the time though and always tried to get to the ball before his man. For the most part he did alright but on the goals he has to take some blame. He maybe was a bit to blame on the first as he actually was too slow to react after Collins initial header. Very slow on the turn and I felt Emnes was the one he should have tracked when they scored the winner.

Collins 5/10 - The guy is just not good enough. I don't want to keep having a go at him week in, week out and it not his fault he is basically a League 2 player at best but the fact of the matter is Adams keeps picking him; even after we had a few decent results when he did not play. He made mistakes for goals at Scunthorpe X 2, versus Watford x 2 that directly led to goals and that is outside of his general play which is appalling. He tried to blame others for the first goal when it was blatantly his fault for a poor header which should have gone high and wide but went infield and led to the goal. Maybe others could have reacted (Lowry, Lowton) but if he heads it out it is not an issue. He actually seemed to blame the sun being in his eyes! He made a few other poor clearances that led to danger and his distribution seems to consist of a long diagonal punt to no one. He is so slow, immobile and does not even read the game well. A dreadful footballer that surely won't be around this club much longer. Even Adams if he stays must see what we all see?

Lowton 6.5/10 - He did ok in another unfamiliar position. He keeps getting moved around from right back to left back to centre back and now was played further up the field. The game seemed to bypass him for long periods but when he did get on the ball he did try and keep it or pass it on the floor and was one of our more threatening players when we got the ball in the box with his heading ability; as evidenced on the goal.

Mattock 6/10 - Another loan player that is simply no better than what we had. He gets in bad positions defensively and fails to realise his principal job is to stop his winger or the cross. He shows some glimpses in possession and can be neat and tidy but at other times gave it away all too easily as well. He did have a few runs forward and one good effort that the keeper palmed away. At least he got something on target as I cannot remember anyone else doing that all game for us!

Doyle 5/10 - I can barely remember him touching the ball all game. That says a lot about his impact. He may have run around a lot and tried to shield the back four as he operated just in front of them but I cannot remember many interceptions, tackles of forward passes of note all game. A nothing sort of player that is a complete drain of the few funds we do have. Would rather see one of the kids like Harriott, James, Chappell or Whitehouse be given a chance than him who is clearly going to get no better and is a player on his way out/down of the football pyramid.

Riise 7.5/10 - Thought he was very good in the first half and he looked one of our more threatening players and made the goal with good feet and an excellent deep cross. He showed one or two other glimpses of trickery or attempts to get behind the visitors defence but often his efforts were wasted by others. Also put in the cross for Henderson that he should have scored. I felt when he was moved inside second half his threat diminished and he was not as influential in the second half. Our main threat most of the game though.

Quinn 7/10 - He was one of our better players again and his effort and work rate was very good again. Looked one of our better players when in possession and one of the few likely to make a cross or a pass that might lead to something. I felt he did fade as the game went on and he seemed to struggle to get back when Boro break on one or two occasions.

Henderson 5/10- Thought he did give us a nuisance factor and won a few headers and tried to hold the ball up and link but often it did not stick either or came back. He missed 3 really good chances; all from his supposed strength, his head. The one in the second half really was a sitter and was a moment you felt effectively sealed out fate in terms of going down. He compounded it by giving the ball away in the lead up the winner too.

Bogdanovic 6/10 - I am not sure he does enough for me when he starts and you can see why most of the managers we have had play him as a sub or an impact player. Forever looking for penalties and seems to be a bit of a one trick pony in this regard. For what it is worth- the two he went down for in the second half were embarrassing and he should have been booked like their player in the first half for simulation. He showed one or two nice flicks or pieces of combination and definitely has talent but drifts out of games too easily and quite a few 50/50 balls he lost without even putting in a challenge.

Subs -

Bent - Played wide left when he came on initially and then seemed to go more down the middle; he did not really do much as he hasn't for most of his loan spell. Did flick on for the Henderson miss. Another one that United probably cannot wait till he goes back and it is 100% certain he will not have a future in the top 2 leagues of English football anymore. Like Cresswell, it seems his legs have gone and he will either pack in or play out the last few years' right at the bottom of the leagues-

Yeates - Came on and showed his lack of pace twice on runs at the full back and then gave the ball away on a couple of occasions. Another inept player that other than a 4 or 5 game purple patches earlier in the year has done next to nothing in his 14 months at the Lane and I am afraid we are stuck with for another year unfortunately.

Tonne - Brought on for the closing stages. A young Norwegian midfielder I believe? I cannot recall him touching the ball in his brief stint on the pitch.

Officials - Andy Woolmer. Up and down. I felt he gave some iffy decisions both ways and whilst he did not give any decisions that changed the nature of the game he was very fussy at some times and then let some clear fouls go on other occasions. It just seemed the game was too stop-start really and it never totally flowed. He got some things for both teams but he probably did get most of the bookings right for both teams and was right to not give penalties for either team for either team for clear dives in the box. He should have booked Quinn for his in the second half though. His officiating did not cost us the game and I am unsure what Adams was talking about in his criticism of him in his post match comments. I cannot recall Emnes doing anything that deserved a red card? Apparently he kicked Doyle. I must have missed it. I think he/we are clutching at straws again.

Crowd/Atmosphere - It started off ok and United fans were once again positive but the goal sapped the life out of them. The equaliser came and once again United 's fans responded but whilst we were the better team we never really threw the kitchen sink at Boro and you kind of felt after we missed a few chances it was inevitable they would score if they get a chance. Listening to most fans after this and walking out; everyone is convinced we are down and it seems many are also not coming back next year. I have still not renewed yet and have had 3 reminders sent through. It seems they are really struggling and I for one think crowds of 12-14,000 will be the norm again next year wasting 10 years of work by the club to increase crowds, bring kids/families in and secure 20,000+ every week. Boro brought a surprisingly good following today (in years past lucky if they have brought 500-600) and the lower tier was almost full. They went wild when they scored the late winner as of course this pretty much sealed their survival in the Championship.