There were a few reasons why United lost last Saturday.
One was that walking to the game someone mentioned United’s nine-match winning run on the League at home. I replied that all such runs come to an end both. Then I learned that we had no fit strikers. Then I realised that not a single member of the starting line-up had scored a goal this season. They still haven’t.
And then, of course, there were Norwich’s tactics after they took the lead. As one Blade said as we were walking up the Kop steps afterwards, “If that’s the way to win a football match I’d rather not win.” Chris Wilder might echo those sentiments. It started when goalkeeper Angus Gunn placed the ball for a goalkick at the Bramall Lane end, stepped back, stepped forward, moved the ball a foot to the right, stepped back, stepped forward, picked up the ball and moved it to the opposite side of goal. He continued in this vein for the rest of the game whilst referee Scott Duncan merely waved at him to get on with it, which he continually ignored.
Then when Gunn went down a couple of minutes from the end holding his back and accusing Chris Basham of standing on him (when he did nothing of the kind), he turned and smiled at the Kop as he was getting ‘treatment’ for his non-existent injury. I hope none of our players ever behave like that – in fact I doubt that Wilder would allow it. And whenever United go 1-0 up away from home they don’t resort to spoiling and delaying tactics – they go for the second goal. I know which I’d rather watch.
In contrast to Scott Duncan’s inaction over Gunn, he was quick to respond to a nothing incident in the technical area. When the ball landed at Norwich manager Daniel Farke’s feet he made no attempt to kick it back for the throw-in, so Wilder decided to do it for him. He shouldn’t have, of course, and his kick did hit the drinks bottles, but there was no reason for the fourth official to call the referee over.