Sheffield United Fan’s Column: Derby County will be a better indication of where we’re at

Angus MacDonald of Barnsley head butts Leon Clarke: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Angus MacDonald of Barnsley head butts Leon Clarke: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Sheffield United were back to something near last season’s best against Barnsley but it still wasn’t a particularly useful marker for where United sit amongst the established teams of the Championship.

Derby County at home will probably give us our best clue yet in that regard. Just a word on the Leon Clarke incident, I didn’t see what happened because I was following the ball, but the question I wanted answered at the time was who started it? If Angus McDonald was the instigator we should have had a penalty because the ball was in play, but the officials must have decided that Clarke started it because Barnsley were awarded a free kick.

Looking at the squad as we near the end of the transfer window, it’s obvious (to Chris Wilder too) that the thinnest part of the team is in central defence, especially when the formation United play demands three of them, two of whom are required to carry the ball out of defence and initiate attacks.

With Richard Shearman injured and the ever-reliable Jake Wright now in the starting line-up, the strength behind them is virtually non-existent. I’ve been saying ever since Wilder stated that John Brayford was not in his plans that we should keep him, because he’s the only cover we have for Chris Basham, and he’s also an experienced right back in this division.

If the reason for Brayford’s dispensability is his salary then that’s a pity, because he’s perfectly capable of playing at this level, but if Wilder can move him out and get someone else in by the end of the month I think we can trust that he knows what he’s doing.

I didn’t get to the Leicester City match as I was working away; it was the first competitive home game I’d missed since April 2009, and the last one before that was, I think, in 1986. I wasn’t so bothered about missing it really, as I knew neither side would be a full strength, but it’s a shame I missed Harry Maguire’s return to the Lane. I trust he got a great reception.