CHRIS BASHAM has been talking some nonsense this week. The 26-year-old Sheffield United player reasoned that manager Nigel Clough should remain so because “we’ve had a great season”.
The latter part of that sentence is open to debate – United certainly had a great cup run – but football is a game of differing opinions so let’s move on. In the very next breath he said: “I know people say it wasn’t a great season because it wasn’t mission accomplished. And it wasn’t.”
Now I’m becoming a little confused. To summise: United have had a great season, but it wasn’t really because, as others point out, they didn’t achieve what they set out to do.
Speaking of the immediate aftermath after United’s exit from the play-off semi-final at Swindon, Basham said: “The chairman came in and said ‘well done’. But it wasn’t because we didn’t go up.”
That would seem to be saying: United have had a great season, but it wasn’t really because, as others point out, they didn’t achieve what they set out to do. In fact it was a bad outcome not worthy of praise. It was anything but a great season.
Ok, so now that is cleared up do we need to ask questions of the man who was overseen this failure? Questions about a timid tactical approach which scuppered any small chance there might have been of automatic promotion. Is that going to be scrapped? If it isn’t, why not? If it is, why and what is it being replaced with?
What about lack of preparation last summer which led to not having assembled anything approaching a strong enough squad, on the manager’s own admission, until after the January transfer window had closed?
Clough even told the Yorkshire Post on the eve of the play-off semi-final: “We are not the finished article, both in terms of numbers and in terms of who we need for the squad even for this league never mind the one above.” Given that this is not in dispute and quite a damning admission, why was this so? When United kick-off again in August will a squad be in place to have a realistic hope of achieving automatic promotion? If the answer is ‘no’ why should Clough remain in charge?
What is Basham’s solution? “It wasn’t mission accomplished but the gaffer and his staff will sit down over the summer, get things sorted and we will be ready to play for Nigel Clough next season.” Easy really, nothing to worry about over the summer break for Chris.
It is often said that football is a simple game and for good reason. Some of the people who play it for a living seem to be just that – simple.
"We can learn from this and come back a better team,” continued Basham. The first valid point he had made. Then he let himself down again with the old cliched chestnut: “Teams come to Bramall Lane seeing it as there cup final and we have to ready for that next season.”
League One clubs should arrive at the Lane quaking in their boots about the prospect of playing in a top class stadium in front of a partizan crowd whose number they could only dream of. That this is clearly not the case – United dropped 32 points at home – is down to United’s failings rather than the like of Fleetwood’s heroics.
It is also worrying that a player of Basham’s experience – after all he’s hardly a kid, he’s 27 in July – isn’t aware of this. If he was he wouldn’t come out with such thoughtless statements. Basham is not alone. Does this not speak volumes for what goes on during the week at United’s Shirecliffe training ground? Failure to adopt a winning mentality? Excuses which have little or no foundation? Lack of a sense of reality?
I leave Basham with the last words. Innocent enough when taken in isolation, but troubling and driving to the heart of the issue, even if the player is oblivious, when read in context. “The gaffer and everyone around him have been right behind us all the way through.”