What a game Sunday’s could be, with the perfect ending absolutely possible. However, for that to happen and the impressively huge Scunny support to leave Bramall Lane on a play-off high, a few things do need to fall in line.
First, we have to play as well as we have to put ourselves in this position. Second, Sheffield United have to play with the inconsistency that has blown away their play-off hopes. After victory has been secured by us on Sunday, we then have to pray our rivals for the last play-off place, Barnsley, stutter. Hopefully the chances of that are reduced significantly by the fact they are playing at top-of-the-table and champions-elect Wigan.
To be honest, the Nigel Adkins factor which has been highlighted in the build-up to our game is a red and white striped herring. There is no way he can be seen to favour us to any degree and he has stressed as much. The only thing we can expect to get from our former messiah is a memory-tinged show of respect at the end of the game.
He has enough worries on his plate sorting out his own team. Appointed last summer, the Blades were quickly installed as promotion favourites after five seasons trying to get out of the third tier. But a patchy season has already led to calls for his sacking on fan forums.
Nige appears to be going nowhere, already talking about rebuilding for next season but the fans are impatient to awaken their sleeping giant and it is hard to see him surviving in the job if he fails next season. Judging by their failure to meet the challenge of triumphing in last Saturday’s game at Coventry, which they had to win to stay in play-off contention, he has a lot of work to do.
The team certainly lacked the confidence, compactness, energy and skill of the Scunny side Adkins got promoted from this division.
The Coventry game also exposed the weak points of the 3-5-2 formation he has recently adopted, with gaping holes down the flanks as the wing-backs were caught too far forward and the back three were two narrow. Unfamiliarity with the system was no doubt to blame for an alarming number of schoolboy cock-ups at the back which we will be eager to capitalise on.
A player worth mentioning, of course, is one William Sharp, formerly of this parish, whose goal-poaching instincts are very much alive with 21 league goals this season, and who has an unhandy knack of scoring against us. That would be the worst scenario: defeat thanks to a goal by him.
But let’s not be pessimistic. In a nutshell, all we have to do is better Barnsley’s result, or, if we both win, better their score by enough to overhaul their two-goal better goal difference. Then we will be in the play-offs.
WE CAN DO IT!