The Thursday Preview: Crystal Palace Vs Sheffield United

Posted by on Feb 17, 2011 in The Thursday Preview | No Comments
Bramall Lane is nervous. The thunderous collective spirit of yore is dampened — only for Annie’s Song do the unimpressed locals rouse themselves. An inability to believe in the attacking credentials of Richard Cresswell, pleading at the manager for a shot as central striker; a failure to conceive that the runs of Mark Yeates will amount to anything beyond another misplaced final ball; a refusal to comprehend in a central defence shorn of captain and leader Chris Morgan.

Their blameless father of chapel is feeling the prickly heat under his collar and not just due to the mild conditions this February. Jamie Ward, small and tender of hamstring, is Derby bound, choice managerial words cried after him; Daniel Bogdanović’s bench-inspired penalties are damned with feint praise; a below par opposing force from Berkshire are proclaimed as unlucky; Stephen Jordan is frowned upon for upending Jimmy Kà©bà© one too many times; and Ched Evans’ dietary habits are called into question.

Eleven games without a win form a narrative worthy of Elizabeth Wurtzel but United will need more than prozac at this point. A squad riddled with absentees has little of the grit associated with the Blades brand and a flimsiness of spirit has set in. The hand dealt to Adams has been an ungenerous one indeed — if the hold up play of Bogdanović, South American brio of Elian Parrino and eagerness of young Matt Lowton provide foundations on which to build, adequate reconstruction would probably only be achievable in Division One – and the Argentine is just one of several assets only temporarily held.

In my appearance on the Two Footed Tackle podcast a week ago, I chose Saturday’s half dozen pointer opponents Crystal Palace as the side most likely to drop come May, but having seen the Blades, I’m no longer so sure. Dougie Freedman, a lithe striker in this time, has followed the textbooks to the letter and started his rebuild strategy at the back. A 2-1 reverse at the Ricoh last Saturday was underwhelming but 2011 has been generally encouraging for the Holmesdale Enders — as recorded by Will in these pages a fortnight or so ago.

That James Vaughan is deemed surplus to requirements by an Everton wholly reliant on Louis Saha has been the South Londoners’ gain and Bafana Bafana star Kagisho Dikgacoi has joined up after a spell at Fulham that failed to register much of a pulse. The former struck thrice to slay Pompey earlier in the season, plundering a couple more in recent weeks; and the latter was a mighty destroyer at Golden Arrows before losing his way by the Thames. Palace may not be glad all over, but there’s a hint of a smile on their lips at least — I’ll take them to win this one by three goals to one.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.

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