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Sheff Utd (h) - League - 26th December 2002

Reports and reaction from the 2002-03 season as Walsall finished 17th in Division 1
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Sheff Utd (h) - League - 26th December 2002

Tue Dec 07, 2004 4:36 pm

By sjlawton13 ( on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 07:30 pm: Edit

A team of thugs and cheats,arms in the back'diving, pushing,time wasting.The only chance of a half decent game today depended on having a half decent Ref.Well he was a shocker the only man who could not see the intimidating tactics empoled by the team and manager.The manager told the man sent off to go back on the pitch to waste time.No Christmas cheer from him.The thing is that they would be a good side without the unsporting behaviour.How do the fans watch this type of stuff every week?

By SheffieldSaddler ( on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 07:40 pm: Edit

I didnt manage to get to the game today. I was listening to bits on Sheffield radio and they basically said that it was like playing football on a ploughed field. Now a question here. How many years running have we had a sh*te pitch? So many I have lost count and this needs to be sorted. It would be ok if our style of foobtall was long ball but christ we try to play football and we cant do this because of the sh*te pitch we have. Walsall FC sort this out. How we also although Aston Villa to play there reserves games at Bescot I will never know. Money isnt everything, a good pitch where you can play decent football is. Talk about shooting ourselves in ther foot and losing home advantage when we cant play the football we want.
Amazing that Ainsworth got a bad reception from United fans! Mind you if you ruin the career of one of the best players to come out of Sheffield United then what could he expect.
Portsmouth were just the same as Sheffield United by the sounds, agressive and unsporting. We managed to mix it with them, so why not today?
We needed to win today as I cant see us getting much from Ipswich or Forest. But with Walsall FC you just never know!

By cannock ( on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 07:46 pm: Edit

Apologies for posting on both sites but i am bloody furious at the mo'

Todays performance wasn't the worst of the season but from my point of view it was the most worrying. Football is a simple game. When you have the ball you need to try and pass to a man in the same coloured shirt and hope to put the ball in the net. When you have pssesion the opposition can't hurt you. Unfortunately, the Bescot coaching staff do not have the same opinion. The Bescot way of playing is to get control of the ball and hoof it into space down the channels in the hope that one of our forwards will gain control. Inevitably we lose possesion and put pressure onto ourselves. People may say the pitch isn't conducive to this. I say crap. Sheff Utd managed to pass to each other relatively easily as have other sides who have come to Bescot.

The second requirement of a football team is to get the ball back when not in possesion. This requires the midfield players to chase and pressurise the opponents until possesion is conceded. Again, the Bescot coaching staff disagree and believe that the midfield players should retreat at a hasty rate of knots to the edge of our own penalty area and give the opposition as much room and freedom required in order to play their football. Jolly decent of them.

When we gain a throw in, this should be to our advantage with the opposition having booted the ball out of play. Our response is for all our players to have their backs to the ball so the thrower has to launch the ball as far as he can to the opposition defenders.

We can have as many skillful players as we want but until these players learn that the basics of football are more important than nifty little flick ons we will continually struggle.

We looked a poor team today, lacking in basic quality, unable to pass and unable to control the middle of the park. As much as MoC is God like it is both he and Sonner who are responsible for our downfall. Indeed, O'Connor showed today that he is well off the pace. For all his effort and determination it was his inability to break down the opposition midfield that caused us to concede - yet again. He showed us that he is at the end of his footballing years. On numerous occaisions he was out paced and outwitted and his response was to continually give away needless fouls. He has become a liability to the team. This has been the story of our season so far. We allow teams to dictate to us not vice versa.

We need a midfield pairing who are able to break down the opposition and gain possesion. When this has been accomplished the ball needs to be distributed to a member of the same team. We are unable to do this.

Ward 7 - dealt with most things comfortably and was not at fault for the goal
Aranalde 7 - a good game from Zigor, battled well and broke well down the flanks
Bazeley 8 - led by example today both attacking and defensively
Hay 5 - looks so comfortable on the ball but continually concedes possesion. He also has the ability to leave forwards totally unmarked in our penalty area
Roper 6 - solid as usual
Corica 5 - should be put out to grass until the mild weather arrives
O'Connor 5 - for all his toil and determination he is being constantly exposed for his rapidly diminishing talent. Needs to be replaced
Sonner 6 - battled well but unable to dominate midfield and was another guilty of conceding possesion too easily
Wrack 7 - battled well
Junior 5 - very poor today, another guilty of conceding possesion too easily
Leitao 7 ran his socks off with little support from his team mates

Zdrilic 5 - i dont believe he is a good enough first division forward. Needs to be offloaded and a man of proven quality given his wedge instead
Ainsworth 7 - terrific pace and determination. Should be on from the start replacing powder puff Corica

Unless we start doing the basics we are in for a season long struggle against relegation.

Rant over, for now. MOM Bazeley

By Paul G ( on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 08:11 pm: Edit

Sad to see MoC today. He looked miles off the pace. Time is catching up with him I'm afraid. I would agree with the sponsors MOTM in Wrack but really no one seemed very interested. A dour game should have finished 0-0 after the red card - to lose it was naive and as Cannock says worrying. We have lost too many home games this season and it will not get any better with the shocking pitch.

Fortunatly this year we have three really bad sides at the bottom. All the bottom 3 have just 17 points. I doubt any of them will gather the 33 required to make 50. As little as 45-46 points could be the safety level this year. Four more wins and half a dozen draws for us.

As for Mr Danson - what can you say about the bloke? Totally inconsistent from minute to minute in both the minor and major fouls. Juniors handball was his chest whilst five minutes later a sheff utd defender who cant judge an awkward bounce is allowed to bounce the ball like a basketball player. Missed the major incidents - looked a certain penalty in the first ten minutes. Blows up as we have a one on one at the end of the first half - he just wants to be the centre of attention. Sheff Utd were treated badly also. Why two yellows for Harley but not MoC? A streetwise side organised by a manager who knows how to stretch the rules of the game to the limit exploited the chaotic refeering to frustrate a result out of us. Absolute replica of the Sheff Utd match last season when he refereed it also.

By Phil_G ( on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 08:17 pm: Edit

I agree with most of your comments Cannock, although I think you were a little hard on O'Connor. I agree he did struggle today, and I was expecting him to get sent off second half, as I think he was a bit lucky with that lunge before half time after already being booked.
On the whole though, I think he can do a job for us, and his organisation of the rest of the team is excellent. I think we always seem to struggle to keep a good shape, and pick up men at set pieces when he goes off or does not play.

I agree with other posts that the pitch is awful, and we should do something about it. Lee has already said he has changed our tactics to deal with the pitch (I assume that's why we play more long, pointless balls straight down their centre half's throat). Thats OK if you play away from home, but to have to change your tactics on your own pitch?

The point of this post is that I believe that while Roper and Hay seem to be our best defensive partnership, as in they defend well together, their distribution is bloody awful.
With Ropes, you know what you're gonna get, a stopper.
But with Hay, I am very disappointed with his distribution, and he always seems to make a couple of howlers each game. First half, he let a United striker in for a clear header, luckily it was straight at Ward.
Perhaps Carbon is not as good a defender, but I thought his distribution was better than Hay's.
BTW, Is Pollet still injured?

Agree with Bazeley as MOM.

Nearly forgot, what is that tosser Danson on? That has got to be THE most error ridden, self important, incompetent performances I have ever seen from a referee, Sunday mornings included.

By Geoff Whiting ( on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 08:43 pm: Edit

Have to agree with a lot of what Cannock says. We gave away posession far too often, one crucial time being for the throw in which led to their goal. The ball was bouncing out for a clear throw in to us 20 yards or so into their half in front of the HL Fellows stand. But instead of doing the simple thing and letting it go out, Wracky tried to control it, got a bad first touch, ball flicked up off him, his second touch was after it had crossed the line. Result - SheffU have the throw instead of us. Throw down the right, Brown gets it, cuts inside, no-one closes him down, and he bangs in a beautiful curler with his left - Ward had no chance, and I'm sure Wakker would not have got to it either if he'd been playing.

I thought Wracky generally had a good hard-working game so it's a shame it was his mistake that indirectly led to the goal, but it's like Cannock's said above, "when you have possession the opposition can't hurt you", but when we'd got it we hadn't got the craft to keep it.

Throw-ins are particlarly mentioned by Cannock, and he's spot-on. We rarely get anyone in a good position to receive a throw, so on many occasions we just throw it long in the direction of one or two of our players, they've nearly always got twice the number of defenders around them, and the ball ends up with the opposition - it happened loads of times today.

SheffU won nearly all the aerial challenges against our attack, we were mostly powder-puff up there, and I could't believe the number of times we didn't even get in a challenge - just stood and watched as a SheffU player headed the ball away with ease. We even gave them the time to diret a lot of their defensive headers to their own men.

Did we force their keeper into a worthwhile save at all, I can't recall him being put under pressure until we had a couple of chances in the closing stages ?

We rarely did anything in their area, we had no idea how to break down their defence which was very well organised. OK the ref was crap but I can't blame him for the defeat, though blowing up on Jorge at the end of the first half was a bit of a b*****d. It needed changing, which to me meant Ainsworth should have come on earlier, but I'd have left Junior on to try and get on the end of an Ainsworth cross - Leitao's heading is not one of his strengths.

Going down to ten men didn't change SheffU's superiority very much, it gave us a chance to get more into the game and pressure them, but we rarely did that and I thought we never looked like scoring today.

I was always worried O'Connor would get a second yellow, whether the first was justified I'm not sure, but I could not believe another hard tackle a while later which led to Danson awarding a free-kick against him and O'Connor turned to Danson and punched the air in a way that he could easily have interpreted as dissent - he must have been so near to getting himself sent off there, and he should know better, especially as he must have known about Danson's reputation.

I thought it was a hard-working but overall a disappointing performance from the lads today, pitch was crap but SheffU handled it far better than us, and I don't see any real reasons to complain about the outcome. The side who wanted it more took the three points.

By SheffieldSaddler ( on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 09:09 pm: Edit

Its easy to form an opinion on one match of our season do far. People like O'Connor, Hay, Corica, Junior and Sonner may have had a bad match today but over the season they have been decent first division players.
If someone on this message board can tell me which Walsall player is more creative than Corica then feel free to do so. But I dont think anyone can because Corica is our most creative midfield player - simple.
Hay is a decent centre half, do you honestly think he would be able to play at Leeds United if he was not? True, he makes mistakes, but so does the rest of the Walsall 11.
I dont think O'Connor is passed it. And who is going to replace him as we aint got any money? He is the best we have at Walsall FC at the moment.
Zdrillic - Given time in the first team he would be a decent player, as he proved when he was given the chance. True, gets injured too much for me but at least he will shoot from places Junior and Leitao are frighened to do so.

By Geoff Whiting ( on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 10:13 pm: Edit

Totally agree we were naive to allow all three points to slip away after they went down to ten men, but we didn't keep the ball against 11 of 'em, and that didn't improve against the 10. A draw at least was there for the taking, but how many more times this season will the result of our post-mortem be "we should have won or we should have drawn"! It's getting tiresome to put it mildly.

I hate to say that from where I was sitting Danson got the penalty claim in the first ten minutes absolutely right. It looked a great tackle by the SheffU player, from my angle he played the ball not the man (was it Sonner?).

He also got the Junior hand ball right in the second half. It may not have looked that way from behind the goal, but from my view on the side, about 8-10 yards outside the box, it was clear Junior had his arm outstretched in front of him and he got two touches on the ball, first his chest, followed by the ball bouncing forward onto his outstretched forearm, then down to the ground. The foolish dissent, hammering the ball into the perimeter wall, earned Junior a stupid booking. It's quite correct though that Danson then ignored a far more obvious hand-ball by a SheffU player just a few minutes later.

The sending off was unnecessary. OK it was a foul on Ainsworth, but at the speed he was going I think it looked far worse than it really was; at that speed it only takes the slightest mis-time to pull a player down as spectacularly as that, and I think Danson should have taken that into account. Very inconsistent again, as he'd given Martin the benefit of the doubt earlier in the game.

It's often said that playing against ten men can be harder than 11, I said so as soon as the red card was shown, and so it proved to be. We'd always been struggling to break down SheffU's defence, and after the red card Warnock changed the side and made it even harder for us. We fell into the trap, and the goal so soon afterwards was the icing on the Xmas cake for Warnock.

I thought SheffU were a much better side this season than when they played here last time, and if either side was going to nick it it would be them, but I'm gutted that once again we've shown that we don't have the know-how to hang in there and get some reward from a game.

By Klarky ( on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 10:23 pm: Edit

Not one mention of the highest ever league attendance at Bescot? Shame.

By popperpancake ( on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 11:37 pm: Edit

To me it just had 0-0 written all over it. And that would have been a fair result. I didn't think we played as badly as some people have suggested. Sheff Utd were very strong, very organised and very uncompromising. On the day we didn't have the guile to break them down. Corica seems to be struggling with the heavy pitches at the moment. I agree with sheff bout him being the most creative player at the club but he does seem to be struggling at the moment.....basically the same criticisms that wolves fans had concerning him. Zdrilic, in my opinion, is useless when he comes on as a substitute....when he was in the side from the start he was producing some good performances but he looks well off the pace when he comes off the bench. Some players are just like that i think, same as some are good coming off the bench. Not really too downhearted tho to be honest as sheff utd looked a decent side to me. Referee had a spell when every tackle we made he was giving a free kick to them. O'Connor was outplayed by Brown but that too doesn't worry me too much as there are not many better midfield players in this division.

By Wyrley Saddler ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 01:06 am: Edit

To win a game you need to score goals. To score goals you need to shoot. There keeper did not have a shot to save all match, end of story.

By Elaine Sample ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 01:55 am: Edit

I must say this is a very good site - whoever Steven Roy is, the old boy has done a good job.
Up the Saddlers Wells.
Elaine Sample

By popperpancake ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 02:10 am: Edit

U should be a coach wyrley. True tho.

By Mark W ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 10:13 am: Edit

I am extremely concerned that we will get dragged
into the relegation battle.Can,t see a single point coming from the next 3 games.Just expect the same hard luck stories again which are wearing a little thin.
Some changes need to be made sooner rather than later.i.e Hay replaced with Pollet as he makes too many mistakes.Fitz back for Sonner who seems to vanish in most games and Ainsworth in for Corica who can,t play on heavy pitches.
Agree with the comments about MoC but we need his motivational skills.

By Matt W ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 12:01 pm: Edit

Ainsworth is Mark Rees reincarnated, let's hope he plays at Rotherham!

By cannock ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 12:29 pm: Edit

With the exception that Ainsworth can actually cross the ball naturally.

By jay b coalpool lad ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 12:57 pm: Edit

there was only one winner on saturday and that was the ref the fudge barclays.

By Shifnalsaddler ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 07:36 pm: Edit

All this criticism of MOC, but look at the tackles he won. Who else at the club could win as much of the ball as he did yesterday? The Sheff Utd team is very strong phsically and MOC stood up to them, and we should be glad he did. So he mistimed a few, well what would you rather he'd done? Stood by and let them have free rein? Fitz, for all his positives, would not have won as many tackles, and as the other central midfielder is Martinez, I rest my case. Maybe MOC won't play tomorrow as it could be a bit much, but we don't want him out too long.

The attack is more of a problem than central midfield, Junior doesn't win enough of the ball, and the front pair don't keep enough possession, which puts the whole team back under pressure yet again. It happens game after game. When it works it looks fantastic, but it doesn't work often enough, and the bread and butter stuff is missing.

CL has a decision to make about what to do with Junior and Corica. Either they start performing again, and start working, or we will continue to lose games, even if we have played well. Time for Lee to earn his corn I think, and sort it out.

Popper seems to be correct about Zdrillic. He's the exact opposite of Jorge last season, who was excellent coming off the bench but mostly lousy when he started. Zdrillic just hasn't looked sharp lately when coming off the bench, and Birch certainly didn't at Norwich.

Wish I could be as bad at my job as Danson is at his and still get away with it.

By RushallSaddler ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 08:26 pm: Edit

Well summed up by everyone's posts - I agree with a lot of what has been said.
Does somebody know something about Ainsworth that I don't, because unless a deal has been sorted out we've only got him for the next two 'extremely difficult' away games then he serves a 3 match ban and the loan period is up, Ipswich were quite impressive against Leicester last night (just coming into form - 4 points out of 6 against Pompy and Leicester) looks very ominous, and surely we can't make it 5 wins out of five against Forest - can we - I hope we can or we'll definitely be looking over our shoulder, slowy but surely the teams below are starting to catch up.
We have really got to improve away from home because from the remaining 21 games to play the 11 away games look a lot easier than the 10 homes especially so considering the state of the pitch.
Home fixture remaining: Wolves, Leicester, Derby, Coventry, Norwich, Portsmouth, Burnley, Watford, Millwall and Brighton - all very tough looking 9 against promotion seekers, 1 against a revitalised Brighton.
Away fixtures: Bradford, Sheff Wed, Sjoke, Grimsby, (relegation 6 pointers) Rotherham, Reading, Gillingham, Crystal Palace, Preston, Ipswich and Forest.

Aways definitely look slightly easier than the home fixtures to me, because many more home shows like yesterday will not yield many points.

By cat3 ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 10:09 pm: Edit

Too bad, we just got unlucky with a fast one came forward from Brownie. At the least, we got a record crowd of 10K to cheer about.. All the best to come eventually! Heads up, cause Walsall is here to stay... Superman once said: "We ain't going to die, soon, they are going to cry... Up Up and Away!!!!"

By Geoff Whiting ( on Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 02:24 am: Edit

Rushall, interesting you should list out those remaining games, I did that in early November and got slated over it !

I said back then we needed to have 30 or 31 points minimum by the time we'd played Forest away on New Years Day. That means we still need 2 or 3 from two very difficult away games, and I don't see us getting any at all. So for me we'll still be on 28 points after Forest away on Jan 1st.

Looking at the remaining two January fixtures (Wolves home, Reading away) I don't see any easy points to pick up, our away performances are good but results continually fail to match up to that, and unless we find a way of turning performances into points I think we could still have 28 points by the time Brighton visit on February 1st.

I've not studied the other lower clubs' fixtures so I've no idea what to expect from them, but we should not be relying on other clubs results to see us through to safety.

The 11 point cushion looks comfortable right now, but I'm very worried how it might look by Feb 1st.

By Paul G ( on Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 03:23 pm: Edit

I still think it is too early to start worrying about run ins with 21 games remaining. I doubt we will need 50 points given that all 3 bottom teams are so far off the pace. We may only need 5 wins from all those listed above.

We should have one advantage in those home games. we will have played on the shocking surface and should be getting used to it. I doubt whether any of those visiting sides will have to have played on anything as bad.

MoC is still worth his place. We have no real alternative not just for his tackling but also his passion for the club. But it is undeniable that he is not the player he once was. The fact that he was once so superb makes his gradual demise so much harder to have to watch. If he can just keep going until we are safe this year his position will be a key one for CL to fill next season.

By RushallSaddler ( on Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 03:42 pm: Edit

I thought MoC had a good game against a strong, highly rated Sheff Utd midfield, all young and very talented and on a lot of premisership club wanted lists, MoC just lacks a decent midfield partner, I just don't rate Sonner, Fitz would be better bet for left sided balance but its a position we need to strengthen and according to last nights E&S CL thinks so too as he is looking to bring in a player with drive and power, he has a player in mind but his club are digging their heels in.

By Ian Gittins ( on Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 10:52 pm: Edit

I agree with Rushall. I thought O'Connor battled really hard and certainly wasn't a liability, even if this is to prove his last season. Surely Lee must be tearing his hair out at that pitch, though. What a shocker. Junior got tackled by the mud a couple of times, touch players like Corica are disadvantaged, and agricultural journeymen like Hay and Roper look even more clumsy. That being said, Sheff Utd were a very good team in form and we gave them a game: 0-0 would have been a fairer score. Panic is premature, surely. There is every chance Sheff Wed and Stoke in particular won't get much more than 45 points, if that; if we keep plugging away, the results will come.

By SheffieldSaddler ( on Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 11:11 pm: Edit

Spot on Ian. Can anyone honestly see Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton, Sjoke and Grimsby getting to the magic 50 points mark? I cannot believe for one minute any of the above teams are going to pick up 33 points in the second half of the season, double to what they got in the first half of the season!
You are basically saying they are going to turn into a top 10 team, as 66 points normally gets you in the top 10.
We of course only need 22 points to reach this mark. So that also means any of the above teams are also going to win 4 matces more than us in the second half of the season?
Sorry, I may be setting myself up for a big fall here but none of the above 4 mentioned teams are anywhere near as good as us.

By Geoff Whiting ( on Sunday, December 29, 2002 - 03:14 pm: Edit

I'm pessimistic I suppose, firstly because of our poor - no ABYSMAL - away results, and secondly the fact that we have a lot of tough home fixtures that have been saved up for the second-half of the season - at our own request due to the Purple Stand development.

I'd really love to agree with you Sheffield, you may well turn out to be right, I certainly hope so. But for me it's just that I want to see us doing the business ourselves, grinding out some results and gaining our own points, rather than relying on other teams below us to carry on their poor form and dropping points.

We've a massively better goal diff than any teams below us, so I feel sure that unless we do something really stupid they'll all need to overtake us on points. Of those bottom three, to overtake us SheffW need to catch up 12 points and Brighton 11 points (both I agree very unlikely) but for Sjoke it's now down to only 9 which I find rather uncomfortable. Grimsby are showing an upturn in results and now need to catch up only 5 to overtake, and Bradford too are getting better results and are now level with us on points.

I still don't feel comfortable by any means, I'd like to look at the other teams' remaining fixtures as that might make me feel better, but I'm not going to 'cos they could just as easily make me feel worse !

By Red Ethel ( on Monday, December 30, 2002 - 10:10 am: Edit

Has Zdrilic had 10 games yet?

By Geoff Whiting ( on Monday, December 30, 2002 - 01:01 pm: Edit

No, I doubt if he's had the standard introductory 10 games for full-assessment purposes on this site - not full games anyway.

He has, however, almost certainly had the neessary 10 injuries for us to conclude that he is highly injury prone !


By Geoff Whiting ( on Monday, December 30, 2002 - 01:03 pm: Edit


Sorry, that's necessary, not neessary, of course !

By arron davis ( on Sunday, January 05, 2003 - 12:24 pm: Edit

well i travelled from cornwall to watch the match on boxing day i felt it would have been a cracking match if the pitch wasnt such a mud bath because to many matches are being played on it to many times and aswell that ref he was crap we should of had a penalty and there player hand balled it and he just waved on play i hope an official was there to watch the game because he would be kicked out of football all together


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