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Armageddon It


I suppose the only saving grace about Def Leppard 4 Mumford and Sons 0 is that most people expected it even before a ball was kicked.

When you walked into Bramall Lane and people were openly saying that we’d get stuffed, I suppose we should have all walked out and asked for a refund.

And yet, even though we prepared ourselves to be sodomised, we still can’t believe how painful it is to sit down right now.

What went so wrong? Letting a goal in after two minutes didn’t help – Shea dropped it, their guy was in the right place at the right time, and the rest is too painful to remember.

OK, we sort-of got back into it a bit, although our record of not scoring away since 22 October never looked like getting broken.

Who knows what might have happened if we just kept it at 1-0 by the break? Not that we’ll ever find out, especially as t’Blades painfully exploited how slow we were in defence.

As STTA of this parish said after the game, only Darius Charles looked like he wasn’t out of his depth at the back.

That really was that, to be honest. The third and fourth goals just seemed inevitable, and it’s been our worst gubbing since Daggers on 6/4/15.

Yes, I was sad enough to check that stat out. It’s quite a sobering one too.

NA apologised afterwards, which was all he could do really. It does make me wonder what the fuck we were doing with our two weeks off though.

Managers, pundits and players love to talk about “intensity”, which is basically running around a lot – sometimes even with a purpose.

OK, that’s a bit too snarky, even for the day after we’ve lost 4-0, but it’s stuff like concentrating when you’re supposed to etc.

I couldn’t believe how lethargic and, well, slow we looked. Even when we were 2-0 down and could have still (technically) got something out of the game.

We were supposed to come out a lot fresher with the weekend off, yet we managed to put in a performance even worse than Chesterfield.

Some players tried hard. Elliott did, effectively being a one-man strike force. Though him and Taylor aren’t firing together so much right now.

To sum that up, we launched up (yet another) long ball in the second half, and both those two went to challenge for it and sent each other to the ground as a result.

I suppose we won’t get taught too many more lessons like that again this campaign. But it puts immense pressure on our home form now, and if we start failing to win at KM….

Plus points: At least it was still light when the game ended.

Minus points: 3pm to 4.55pm

The referee’s a…: Missed a few things, in truth. But for the umpteenth time this season, he’s not to blame for our result.

Them: I’ll be very surprised if they’re not promoted this season, they had to win yesterday and from the second minute they’d done exactly that.

Bit of a strange club, Sheffield United. They have a Championship budget, apparently, and they have a setup that belongs in the division above L1.

But they’ve always been a bit like Huddersfield, or Brizzle City, who have actually spent more time in the second tier than the third, but you remember them as much in Div 3 as anywhere else.

Forgot that Bramall Lane a) hosted cricket up until 1973 and b) was a proper test venue. I bet that was an interesting experience to go to.

Speaking of which, the locals seemed friendly enough (bar the one 17-year old afterwards who clearly spent his youth getting bullied by Wednesday fans). As they should be after winning 4-0.

Their PA guy seemed to like us too, welcoming us and praising our great story.

Think he got it wrong when he kept saying it was our first visit there though. This proved to be a bit of a shock for your editor (and boy, SW19 wasn’t nearly so well written in them days).

And I’m sure it must have been a massive surprise to those who went to THAT game during the Miners Strike…

Point to ponder: So, how do I write yet another load of text about how shit our away form is, without sounding like a broken record about it?

I suppose I could use the old “if we were still playing right now we still wouldn’t have scored” line. Except that would still apply to the Chesterfield game too.

There’s the lousy attempt at humour, such as their scoreboard telling people if they see anything suspicious they should inform a steward immediately.

Insert obvious gag here.

But what I saw yesterday worries me more than even yet another failure. We don’t even seem to look like a team right now.

It’s almost as though the players themselves have got absolutely no belief that they’ll ever find the net again away from KM, let alone win a game.

They’ll deny it if you say that to them, no professional player will ever admit otherwise. But once we went a goal down, deja vu really wasn’t that far away.

If post-game reaction is anything to go by, a few scales dropped in front of some more eyes yesterday. Our wank away form is not an accident or just “one of those things”.

There’s something wrong with us right now. And I just can’t quite put my finger on it.

But one incident sticks in my mind from yesterday, and something that means I don’t need to write a thousand more words repeating myself.

On ninety minutes, we had a shot. A speculative one, which never was going to trouble any goalie bar Ben Wilson, and one of those frustration efforts.

But it led to some very sarcastic, very loud and very prolonged cheering from our fans. Followed with a hearty rendition of “We’ve had a shot”.

It was black humour, certainly. But there was something a little bit more than that – it was ridicule mixed in with some genuine contempt.

A fair amount of people booed on the full time whistle, and I don’t blame them one bit. Losing to the possible division winners 4-0 is painful but acceptable if it’s a once off.

But if you’ve been to Oldham, Millwall, Frenzyville, Southend, Brizzle Rovers, Sutton and Chesterfield as well – and many have – then you know this is simply de rigueur nowadays.

Contrary to what some on social media will have you believe, our fans are actually quite patient and tolerant than most. But yesterday I could sense the patience finally wearing thin.

And if your supporters start openly taking the piss in the manner ours did late on, the next stage becomes a lot less pleasant…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Your editor having proper chips and gravy pre-game, which I haven’t had in about 20 years. Lovely it was, too. Should have stayed in the chippy. 2) Sheffield is, I’m told, full of middle class studenty types these days. Which explains why it’s been spruced up a bit. And why the Socialist Workers Party was having a rally too…

Anything else? Could we go down this season? That’s not alarmist either, especially if our home form starts deserting us too.

The league table suggests with goal difference added we’re ten points away from the drop zone. OK, most will be looking at the team one place directly below us, and TBH – I don’t think it will be a bad thing when they go above us again.

Hell, it might regalvanise us, and make us realise how much we’ve slipped up.

But we’re in a situation where we simply have to keep winning (or not losing) at KM. That’s not always easy, especially when you over-rely on it.

Imagine if we come a cropper next Saturday? That’s very possible by the way, and that will blacken some moods.

That said, even after the last 24 hours, it’s not impossible. We’ve got a lot of games still coming up this month, and you’d like to think that the players finally twig at some point.

Remember how places like SW19 praised the squad for showing backbone earlier in the season? It would be nice to write that again.

We “only” need five wins to stay up, roughly speaking, which in itself doesn’t sound a lot. If we do sent Kunt “Karl” Robinson back to SE London with his tail drooping, that gives us a much needed boost.

The next three games are, in theory, winnable. And even now, I expect at least one victory from at least one fixture.

But we could end up fighting a battle to avoid going down if we fail to take control of what will be a very important month. Teams down the bottom just need to start hitting runs of form, and those higher up can be fucked if they’re not careful.

It’s not impossible that we could freefall. I don’t like writing that, and I doubt none of you enjoy reading it as well, but it’s a very real truth.

Yes, it’s still very much in our own hands, and by this time next month this concern could be academic. And I hope it is. But as said above, something is wrong with us right now.

There’s still enough dross about for us to scrape painful 0-0s in. A point a game will still do us, though what makes me think that’s exactly what we’re trying to do right now…?

There is a knock-on effect here. The longer we struggle to achieve safety, the less likelihood we’ll get to see the youngsters given a much needed run-out.

All the while we need points, NA will keep playing the first eleven, and the youngsters will continue to get little more than cameos.

One could argue that it’s the senior players letting us down, and the yoof couldn’t do much worse. But as we should know by now, our manager doesn’t think that way.

As stated before, this is going to be a very important close season, and we’ll need to know who can make the step up to be at least cover next campaign.

And the more you get rid of, seniors and youngsters, the more you need to replace. And the thinner your string becomes…

So, was it worth it? No.

In a nutshell: t’shite.