It was a throwaway line which gave away a small insight into the psychological importance placed upon football games in the modern day.
Louis Reed, Sheffield United’s teenage midfielder, was in the gymnasium at the Banks’s Stadium to meet the Press, to conduct a post-mortem into his side’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy exit at the hands of Walsall.
Reed, who was unhappy with his display, was asked about his own development, how tough night games at places like Walsall will aid that and how learning from the likes of Michael Doyle can’t hurt, either. Then Reed revealed that, if selected, he and Doyle keep well away from each other in the tunnel before the game... not just because he has been prone to the odd verbal “kick up the a*se” from his combative Irish skipper.
“Doyler, who is a great leader, and I are similar players and we’re similar in stature, too,” smiled Reed.
“So we try and seperate ourselves when we’re going out on the field, to avoid people thinking we’re a small team and trying to get a psychological advantage.
“[Stefan] Scougall is usually nowhere near us too. It’s all in the mind but we feel it’s important, mentally. We know our games and our strengths - Doyler is a more aggressive tackler but his range of passing is similar to mine.
But we know we won’t win many headers from opposition goal kicks and things like that, so we leave that to the likes of Bash [Chris Basham] and Harrison [McGahey]. Then, if they win that, it’s my job to get us playing again.”
Speaking of ‘Bash’, I wrote a column for The Star’s sister paper, the Sheffield Telegraph, this week about the affect of crowds getting on players’ backs, and the former Blackpool midfielder has copped more than his fair share of stick as he struggled to adapt to life in League One. A string of unconvincing displays in midfield did little to sway the boo-boys but he has been a revelation since being switched to the centre of defence, and was once again the standout performer at Walsall on Wednesday evening.
One challenge, on the lively Tom Bradshaw, summed it up - Basham read the danger, moved swiftly to cover it and executed perfectly a challenge which could have, if mistimed, been costly. Basham spoke earlier in the week with a renewed confidence and, after becoming a dad earlier in the season, he is loving life again at the Lane.