I'm glad we opened against Sheffield United this week and not Manchester City last week. We might've gone into this one licking some fresh wounds and looking up at our opponents in the table instead of down.
I was impressed with the win. Sheffield United were always going to be very difficult to beat, and I've hear it said on more than one occasion in the aftermath of the game that "this is one we wouldn't have won last season". I definitely agree with that. They're defensive by nature, and very good at it. But by going down to ten they were able to legitimately park the bus, and I'd wager they're one of the best in the league at battening the hatches. Their quality is pretty much all in defence, and it was no mean feat to break them down. I've heard criticism of how difficult we made it, but I thought we were patient and went about it the right way. We didn't give in to the temptation of peppering the goal with futile long shots. Ramsdale would have eat them up. We kept up the crossing and we tried engineering it through their defensive line via through-balls or dribbling. They defended resolutely, as you would expect.
We got there in the end and that's all that matters. We dominated play as you'd expect against ten men. The debutants were fantastic and the quality seems to be getting there all over the park now. There were cobwebs as you'd expect. In fact I thought before the game that the cobwebs might be very significant given that United and Burnley had already lost having opened their seasons against sides who had played previously. We will be better next time out. This was an odd performance in a way, but a 3pt start is huge.
I still have massive respect for Chris Wilder. They do seem to get shit luck against us which is hilarious, but must be infuriating for him. The red card is one that could be validly argued both ways. It was a very light red or a very dark yellow. Perhaps an orange card? And the penalty save was fantastic. One of the best I've seen. Wilder will think that's typical of what happens him against Villa. I think Sheffield United just need to be careful of second season syndrome. I'm not suggesting they'll go down. I think their workrate and their defensive quality will be enough to stay up, but I wouldn't be surprised by a bottom 5 or 6 finish after last year's exploits. They struggle to score goals and don't look like having fixed that. That's 4 or 5 losses in a row for them now and that becomes a habit.