Blunted Blades

Thursday 10th May 2012 13:44

Cresswell: walking wounded

Cresswell: walking wounded

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Sheffield United FanZoner Leo Watson is not feeling optmistic about the play-offs with the Blades short of strikers.

United must break their play-off curse

So the end of the official league campaign has brought the inevitable pain and suffering for Blades fans. It is a fact universally known that all followers of the club get an automatic pass through the pearly gates and into heaven because, thanks to Sheffield United, they have done their purgatory on earth.

To lose out on automatic promotion will always hurt, but to have to sit back and watch the blue half of the city invading the pitch and turning delirious with happiness at the Blades' expense is almost too much to bear. But all is not lost. Unlike so many United teams of old, they not thrown away a glorious opportunity. Instead, Wednesday simply stole the initiative with an almost unthinkably good run.

Had Danny Wilson been offered seven wins, one draw and a loss away at fifth in the table with nine games to go - make no mistake about it - he would have grabbed it, and so would almost any Blade. The fact of the matter is that Wednesday has earned automatic promotion and all Unitedites can do is congratulate them and move on.

So now it is to be the play-offs what next? Striking options are limited. Thanks to James Beattie's second suspension of what has been a miserable spell back at the club, Ched Evans' imprisonment and an unfit Richard Cresswell, Wilson has been left scraping the barrel.

An honest and frank assessment is needed and it is this. Chris Porter and Michael O'Halloran are not good enough. While Porter lacks pace and a first touch, O'Halloran doesn't appear to know how to finish. Although I will be the first to admit I would be thrilled to be proved wrong over what we can only hope will be the next three games, I seriously doubt either will come good.

pain

The answer could lie in moving Lee Williamson up-front alongside Cresswell, who will no doubt be pushed through the pain barrier. Williamson may not seem the obvious choice, but he has demonstrated his ability in front of goal throughout this campaign chipping in with 13 goals from an orthodox right-sided midfield position. Flynn and Quinn could take up positions on either wing in this scenario.

Although this would split-up the understanding down the right flank between Matty Lowton and Williamson which has been so profitable this term, it is a price worth paying. At the other end it is essential that the backline stays strong. With a weakened attack the last thing United can afford is to ship goals.

During my lifetime I have seen three play-off finals come and go at both old and new Wembley and the Millennium Stadium without so much as the Blades scoring a goal as well as countless semi-final flops. Let's hope that there is such a thing as fourth time lucky...

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