Sheffield United vs. Forest preview..

So yeah, Forest are going to play a side near the foot of the table on an appalling run of form.  Does that sound a bit familiar?  After the disappointment of our home run of defeatless league games being ended by Hull, we are provided a prime time opportunity to inject a bit of life back into our faltering league campaign with Tuesday night’s trip to Bramall Lane.  At least you’d like to think so.

The Blades are tumbling in a chaotic freefall to join their city compadre’s Sheffield Wednesday.  Without a win since December 2010, in the fourteen league games they’ve contested since then, they’ve lost ten of them.  They are on a run of four consecutive league defeats – Palace away, Scunthorpe away – hell, even Derby beat them at home, and most recently Portsmouth.

Clearly newish manager Micky Adams hasn’t had the desired effect in taking over – indeed, recent results sparked a plaintive appeal for patience from their chief executive Trevor Birch.  Whilst I realise many Reds fans harbour bitterness for our play-off encounters, I have some empathy for the Blades fans – we’ve been there, and it’s not nice.  Plus they’re filling a relegation place that Derby could be occupying!

Indeed, when fans think that pride is all that’s left – it’s probably time to wave goodbye and make preparations to rebuild.  The thing that troubles me is that a winless run of 14 league games, a manager who is yet to deliver a win, a calendar year as yet without a win.  Enter stage left Nottingham Forest – because I’m still a bit grumpy at our recent downturn in results, I’m a bit concerned about this!

Our hosts will inevitably be low on confidence, as will their supporters – and casting an eye down their squad list they lack pace, which is suggestive of a more direct style of football.  Generally we’ve coped quite well with that defensively, although if they also deny us time and space when we’re in possession we might – as in recent games – struggle to create anything meaningful ourselves.

I’m guessing McKenna might be available again – as far as I’m aware there aren’t any further injury concerns following Saturday’s game.  I’m expecting some differences though, I’m wondering whether Billy will opt for a different strike pairing – and I’m certainly hoping that whilst his personnel options in midfield are limited due to injuries, he is working with them on providing whoever leads the line with a few more chances!

On paper we should be able to compound the Blades’ misery – but as we’ve found to our cost of late, we don’t play matches on paper.  Losing five league games on the bounce is a pretty alarmingly bad run, and it’s not something Sheffield United have done yet this season.  Hopefully we can inflict that on them but prove some kind of catalyst for recovery.

Like many teams the Blades have many of our rivals to come – Watford follow us, but then they have Leeds to visit, go to QPR and Cardiff shortly after.  They end the season away at Swansea.  Personally, after our game of course, I would be very happy to see The Blades playing for something more than pride.  For Tuesday night, though, I think we will discover the extent of our ‘slump’, one way or another.

In our increasingly desperate limp towards the promise of injury recoveries during the international break, this game stands out as one to get some points in.  Indeed, Doncaster at home given their injury concerns of late you’d hope for some too – but a trip to Swansea right at the end of what has been a bit of a bitch of a run of fixtures couldn’t come at a worse time.

So, if you don’t mind Billy, I’d be tremendously grateful if you could arrange for us to claim all three points at Bramall Lane, please!  Many thanks!  Beyond this, I would extend my heartfelt best wishes to Micky Adams and his Blades side in picking up as many points as possible.