Friday, 20 July 2018

Game by Game - 1

A United View is back for the new season, but rather than being mostly the efforts of one man, it is going to be the work of a Blades collective. If you want to get involved in any of the new features as they develop, get in touch.

The first feature is Game by Game which aims to provide a short (no more than 600 words) match report from each game this season and then leave you with three final thoughts from a Blades perspective. 

First up, Paul McDonald went to Valley Parade (in old money), no idea what it's called currently, to watch the Blades start their UK based build up to the new season against Bradford City.    

Pre-Season Friendly: Bradford City (A), 2-3.

After being starved of live football for a full 48 hours after the end of a World Cup that might have just surpassed my previous favourite, Italia 90, it was back in the car for the relatively short trip to Bradford to see my first pre-season game of 2018/19.

With twitter doing what twitter does when United take someone who doesn’t happen to capture the imagination, the main focus was mainly on former Ipswich man David McGoldrick who did more than enough to silence the doubters with an assured performance that could easily have been marked with a goal with just a little bit more luck.

It was McGoldrick who had the first chance of the evening, cutting inside and then forcing a stop from O’Donnell from a tight angle. United didn’t have to wait long to take the lead, however, and it was a goal that will surely take some beating during the course of the regular season.

When Bradford striker Charlie Wyke gave the ball away needlessly near half way to Mark Duffy, there appeared to be little danger. However just 5 touches later the ball was in the back of the net after a sublime one touch move involving Duffy, Clarke and Evans led to John Fleck finishing superbly first time from the edge of the box. Wyke played no further part, seemingly substituted due to embarrassment before the game restarted.

United’s (unbelievably still uncapped) Scottish midfielder was looking sharp throughout the half, and one wonderful touch and pass that found Baldock was worth the admission fee alone, unfortunately the wing back was adjudged offside despite finding the back of the net. This led to my mate Al getting paranoid that there were scouts in the crowd who would be more than willing to take him off our hands, “Stop being so good FFS”, among the many anguished comments he made.

The Blades were in full control and doubled their lead just after the half hour mark. McGoldrick was again involved, playing a fine through ball to Lafferty who’s pull back beyond the goalkeeper found Leon Clarke who stroked home via a slight touch off a Bradford defender.

The hosts had the better of the opening exchanges, and it didn’t take long for them to find a way back into the game. Jack Payne, recently signed on loan from Huddersfield Town, cut inside and beat Henderson low to the keeper’s right from just outside the penalty area. Almost immediately, the two goal advantage was almost restored as McGoldrick found himself in a great position 12 yards out but could only find the base of the post, although from my angle I did wonder if the keeper got the slightest of touches to prevent a debut goal.

The game settled into a typical pre-season affair with a raft of changes on both sides and United looked to have paid the price for their over-elaborate play in seeking a third when Jordan Gibson found himself in acres of space and fired in a close-range equaliser past trialist Luke Steele.

Just like the last time we were at Valley Parade, another Blades goal quickly followed one from the home side. While last time it was Bash who sent the away fans into raptures during that thrilling 3-3 draw, this time Billy Sharp tucked home with the aid of a slight deflection to much less fanfare from the 500 or so Blades who had made the trip to West Yorkshire.

Three final thoughts:

United’s passing and movement was again excellent and typical of what we have now come to expect of what is a very good, very entertaining side.

If I have one slight criticism, again it was the tendency to over play in and around the opposition penalty area, particularly in the second half, something that I thought we did too much of in the second half of last season.

I do, however, have no doubt that we will improve in this area and if the strikers being targeted are of the same quality of defender that has just been brought into the club to add to the undoubted talent we possess in the likes of O’Connell and Fleck, then we could be in for another memorable season.

Paul McDonald - Twitter - @thecase1907

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