At the end of the home defeats to Norwich City and Fulham the players were cheered and applauded off the pitch.
It was a bit different after Bristol City. At the final whistle there were a few seconds’ stunned silence before the fans remaining in the ground broke out into applause, as if they appreciated that once again the players had given everything and had been unlucky. The momentary silence was because of the lateness of Aden Flint’s winner.
It was one of those games where you could predict what was going to happen. Before kick-off I said to my mate Darren that we had better watch out for Flint, the goalscoring defender who is more prolific than many strikers. Then after we hit the woodwork for the third time I said to Darren that the first time City got a shot on target it would go in.
Three minutes later that happened, but it was a great goal. We’ve been on the end of a few of those recently – Leeds, Hull, Birmingham, Burton, Bristol, and a brilliant team goal by Millwall.
Typically, Chris Wilder went all out to win the game, even with ten men, by making attacking substitutions. No settling for a draw for Chris.
I’ll be kind to Wilder and say that he must have had a poor view of John Fleck’s challenge. From 100 yards away on The Kop it didn’t look good, and even though the replay showed that Fleck got the ball first, both his feet were off the ground and he then made contact with the player’s leg just above the ankle. It was a red card offence without doubt.
So that leaves John Lundstram needing to take on even more responsibility. He’s been improving with every game as he gets more confidence playing at a higher level than he’s played at before, and his performance against Bristol was his best yet. Yes, there were one or two stray passes, but then Paul Coutts did that occasionally, despite what the last line of the song says.
What I like about Lundstram is his ability to kick equally well with both feet, a rare ability in a modern footballer, even the very top players. This gives him the option of going left or right when he gets the ball in midfield, as he’s happy to use whichever foot is more convenient. It also means he can feint one way and pass or shoot the other, as he did when he got in a shot against Millwall with his left foot. Some players daren’t even try with their weaker foot, but Lundstram doesn’t think twice.
He’ll probably have the ubiquitous Bashambauer alongside him for the next three matches, though promotion for Samir Carruthers is a possibility. It also means we’ll probably see Regan Slater on the bench for the next few weeks.
With two tough away games coming up there’s a chance United will reach Christmas with one point from six games, but if that happens Wilder will remain positive, and so should we. Even if we go into the New Year outside the top six, it’s still been a great first half of the season.