Howard Kendall, writing in his autobiography ‘Love Affairs and Marriage: My Life in Football,’ admitted Sheffield United fans are not easily impressed.
So little wonder the response to Tuesday’s evening’s defeat by Colchester, the second time Nigel Adkins’ side had been beaten at home in the space of four days, was pretty damn cold.
United, against opponents savouring the sweet taste of success for the first time since the end of last season, produced a miserable, incoherent display. Take nothing away from Tony Humes’ players, as Adkins insisted afterwards, but the result owed as much to the home team’s failings as it did the visitors’ prowess in front of goal.
A defence which had previously been breached only once in four League One outings has now conceded three times in each of its previous two outings. Losing to Bury was careless although, in truth, the result could easily have gone either way. But the response was erratic, not emphatic. United’s displays, albeit only recently, are following a downward curve.
To his credit Adkins, whose relentlessly positive agenda is more Yankee than South Yorkshire, confronted the issues with brutal honesty when interrogated by the media afterwards. Yes, he took full responsibility. No, coaching staff, directors and supporters should not be reaching for the panic button just yet.
Quite right too because, despite United’s sometimes insipid shift in midweek, there were sources of encouragement. Evidence that Adkins’ squad, their previous two results apart, are equipped to challenge for promotion. However bizarre that sounds.
United were so far below par against Colchester, they would have been guaranteed the green jacket if the contest had been staged at Augusta. Yet, they created more than enough chances to have taken something from the game. Whether that would have been fair on the visitors is debatable. But, in football, you don’t always get what you deserve.
Adkins’ biggest challenge, ensuring his back four is afforded better protection apart, seems to be engineering an emotional equilibrium whereby folk do not get too high when they win or low when they lose.
Because, despite spending four years in the third tier themselves, United are not expected to get turned over by anyone in this division. Even though it is inevitable during the course of the campaign.