YOU have to give Nigel Clough credit for keeping a straight face. After letting another two points slip from his grasp in another stereotypical performance the Sheffield United manager delivered a stereotypical verdict. "Another good point away from home."
Remember, this is a United side which has taken three points from the last possible 15. The same team that has suffered back-to-back home defeats to Peterborough and Fleetwood and has registered only one League win in the last seven attempts. Indeed, in the home fixture that preceded those, United trailed by two goals against lowly Coventry before scrambling a point with two late strikes.
A well-deserved lead after eight minutes at Walsall, scored by Jose Baxter, United should have gone on to put the match well beyond their opponents. Instead, they quickly relaxed their grip, adopting that tiresome, cautious approach which Clough preaches so earnestly from the pulpit at the club's Shirecliffe training HQ. Result: Another two points dropped or another good point away from home depending on whether you were viewing from the away end or from the dugout.
Just like the 1-1 draw at Crawley where United dominated but had to rely on a late penalty. Just like the 1-1 draw at Scunthorpe last Saturday when United rescued another point.
As if United's freefall from automatic promotion candidates – something that has long since been laughingly dismissed by Bramall Lane regulars but Clough only brought himself to confront less than a fortnight ago – United's manager was quick to remind everyone the result at Walsall made it six successive trips without defeat. Talk about covering your tracks.
In keeping with his unique and customary man management skills Clough also singled out forward Jamie Murphy. "Murphy, especially, wasn't very good tonight," he volunteered. The use of the word 'especially' suggests that a few others fell into that category.
Clough's intransigence is beginning to wear thin for many of the Bramall Lane faithful. It's the Sheffield character to tell is as it is. An honest appraisal, instead of a smokescreen until, hopefully, events take a turn for the better, would be more palatable.
Of course, that would involve admitting management failings and 'we' couldn't have that.