So Nick Blackman is potentially on his way to Palace. Am I really that bothered? To be honest I am relatively sanguine about it. You get used to these events that after so long you feel anaesthetised and numb to the nagging annoyance and anger you know you perhaps should feel.
United have sold much better players than him in the past and will no doubt do so again in the future. There are very few clubs in any division that will retain their best players, not least a League One club that made a loss of £13m last year. A club stymied in its transfer activities by a move to being a break-even business and achieving a wage cap percentage they would have been nowhere near in the last two years of failure.
Tabloid reports we paid £350,000 for him; the key is what we make on top of that and realistically it isn't going to be the significant amounts that many Blades fans openly crave. For a League One striker with 11 league goals, 6 from the penalty spot we aren't going to get much more than double that. The truth is, we will never know, hidden behind the increasingly used mask of undisclosed fee…..with potential add-ons. Profit would give Danny Wilson room to manoeuvre in the transfer market, with both monies coming into the club and an increase in turnover which will consequently increase the wage budget and total value of the available salary funds within the cap.
The importance of strengthening other key areas, assuming funds are released, is surely clear to see. We have a lack of options in central midfield and a dearth of creativity in wide areas. That lack of wide supply is due to a combination of poor delivery and Danny Wilson's insistence on persisting with inverted wingers, forever cutting inside to little effect. Blackman is as guilt of that as anyone. Look how frequently the Blades have struggled to break down opposition defences and how often an attack out wide ends with a narrow chipped cross on to a towering League One centre half’s temple.
Blackman is a bit of a show pony footballer. Erratic and lacking little confidence he must cause team-mates as much frustration as he does the fans at times, but as supporters we sometimes see past his failings because he scores goals. He is capable of much more than we get to see, if only he had a bit more application and thought we might see the substance as well as the style.
Yes he chases lost causes and often recovers the ball, but when there are easier positions to chase down, he is strolling around the pitch seemingly oblivious to the opportunity. At times he struts about the pitch with seemingly half-hearted indifference. That may not be the case, but his body language suggests a man who is interested in the work that gets noticed and not the off the ball graft required, particularly when played out wide.
In possession, you sense something exciting might happen, but equally as likely is a wild shot from distance blazed over the bar. His clear strengths are his pace, particularly when running at defenders, and his ability to hold up the ball, but how often does he do the hard work and then fail to part with the ball when a teammate takes up a good position? It is interesting that his stats show a player who has scored a goal once every two games and half of his shots per game are on target.
The biggest issue for me with his potential departure is that without Blackman we become an even more one dimensional team, lacking pace in every part of the pitch. Whilst teams hit us swiftly on the break, leaving us looking listless, we have no one likely to do that to the opposition. A huge amount of importance is placed on who and how we replace and strengthen the squad.
Yes, losing one of our supposedly better players at this stage of the season hurts. Some may say it shows a lack of ambition. You can only really say that when you see how the money is spent. Nick Blackman is our top scorer, but he has only scored 4 in the last 10 games; 2 of which were penalties. He is not the player around which the team's style of play revolves, nor is he the player we are ultimately reliant on for results.
Every backbone and heart you break
Will still come back for more
As ever, at moments like this, fans take to the message boards, to social media and to their mobiles, hammering their keys like a demented woodpecker. They are blaming the board, Kevin McCabe, Danny Wilson; but few are actually wondering if the player himself is driving the move. A pay rise and a move to a club pushing for promotion to the Premier League, what's not to like about that from Blackman's perspective? They are also ranting about a move that is still to be confirmed, but why should that stop those who set up the Kevin McCabe OUT Facebook group?
There are those who will claim that it is the final straw; that is them finished with the club, that they are not renewing season tickets next season; one even showed his cut up season ticket on twitter last night. Some will go to extremes; saying that Meadowhall with the missus is preferable. I think they annoy me less than those who say they will go to some away games, but not the home ones. As if part-time support and putting money in rival club's coffers helps the situation of the club they profess to love.
These are the "Drama Queens", as I prefer to think of them. Some may follow through with their claims, many will not. I am damned sure that selling Nick Blackman isn't an excuse to end years of support. I can see a cumulative impact of player sales causing frustration, but to walk away…really?
It is quite interesting that when you look up the many definitions of support in a dictionary they could each be applied to being a football supporter;
- to bear or hold up, serve as a foundation for.
- to sustain or withstand (weight, pressure, strain, etc.) without giving way; serve as a prop for.
- to undergo or endure, especially with patience or submission; tolerate.
- to sustain (a person, the mind, spirits, courage, etc.) under trial or affliction.
As Blades supporters we are all too familiar with the third and fourth definitions. Maybe some should remember that and put a little perspective in their rants. I am by no means happy with where our club finds itself, or with some of the decisions have been made, but really what would be left and what state would be in Kevin McCabe walked away? Think about that and maybe wait and see the state of the squad versus Coventry City on Friday before hammering your keyboards or opening your mouth.