Following the introduction of Scotsman David Weir, many Blades believed this could be a new beginning. A fresh face, innovative strategies and a new formation allowed the fans to be optimistic about the 2013/2014 season, without the usual added stresses of cynicism and disappointment of the previous season(s). With the new additions of Lyle Taylor, Febien Brandy, Stephen McGinn, Conor Coady and Sean McGinty, a young squad was believed to form and connect to build a new era of United players.
The first game of the season against Notts County, televised live on Sky for the Football League’s 125th Anniversary, was the first official game of the season for the 72 teams. Weir’s apprehension was evident during the pre-match interview and translated through to the players during the initial 20 minutes of the first half, but thankfully the team nestled quickly into the new 4-2-3-1 formation, grabbing the first goal of the campaign with a Kevin McDonald strike. Despite Notts County equalising with a poor defensive goal from the viewpoint of United, the young yet impressive build of Maguire headed home the winner on 67 minutes. The reaction from the fans was blatant with the loud yet repetitive chants of ‘Weir’s red and white army’, a transformation of the traditional ‘we’re the red and white army’. Fans response on Twitter to the performance indicated an unusual hype and confidence surrounding the new season yet how wrong could the ‘TwitterBlades’ be…
After a midweek last minute defeat at home to League 2 side Burton Albion in the Capital One Cup, rumours circulated on fans forums and social media surrounding the future of Kevin McDonald’s career at Sheffield United. McDonald was seen to be the creative player within the club, fans relied on KMac to be able to initiate intelligent play, despite not contributing to the goals tally as much as he and fans would have enjoyed last season. When the first away game to Brentford arrived, fans were already in belief that McDonald had left the club, due to his absence in the team. However, this is a regular occurrence for Blades fans. Sheffield United have always been known to be a ‘selling club’, a club that can produce and utilise players creatively in order to sell and earn profit; examples include Stephen Quinn, Kyle Walker and Nick Blackman in recent times. Despite this regular occurrence happening once again, nearly 2000 fans travelled to Brentford, expecting a similar performance to the Notts County game. Yet 5 days on from the Burton loss, Blades left disappointed once again. Poor defensive errors, lack of efforts on goal and a lacklustre midfield, evidently missing McDonald’s presence, led to an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to a promotion rival.
A week later, loyal Blades were left frustrated with a 1-1 draw at Bramall Lane against Colchester United. Through the formation of 4-2-3-1, leaving either Taylor or Porter up front on their own, it is by no means a surprise that the team has only scored 4 goals so far this season. Yet, for the trip to West Yorkshire to face Bradford City, Weir decided to stick to his original formation and continue with 1 up front. I think any football fan can guess how this match ended; Bradford’s Nakhi Wells secured the win with 2 goals with United once again failing to score or even create a string of chances infront of their 2000 travelling fans, leaving them 17th in the league. With the next match against another promotion contender, MK Dons, fans fear how the rest of the season will pan out if Weir does not succeed with his new formation nor secure a new out-and-out striker. Despite chants of ‘Weir’s red and white army’ continuing at Bramall Lane, only the most optimistic Blade could say that this will maintain.