OK, better it was, good enough it wasn’t.
Though ultimately defeated, there was clearly an aim to be cannier than we’ve been this season against Burton. The high pressure attacking game was sacrificed for something more considered. The first half, set up in a kind of 4-1-4-1 formation, it looked like the aim was to take the sting out of Burton’s passing game. This, perhaps, providing a platform to open up a little as the game settled and their players tired. Rope-a-dope.
We didn’t look comfortable sitting back as a compact unit, but despite the occasional scare, when the defence opened up alarmingly, Ryan Clarke’s role was usually to mop up a misplaced final ball rather than make another miraculous flying save.
Second half, without truly threatening; we started to pull them about a bit. We looked comfortable and good for a draw (albeit a tedious one) before conceding from another looping right wing cross to the far post. Is that the fault of Tonkin who was stationed there; or Worley and Creighton? Who knows, but it appears to be a weak spot.
We’ll not fully know who was rested, injured or dropped until Saturday at the earliest, but in making changes to both personnel and formation, Chris Wilder clearly knows he’s got to find a formula that works for us at this level.
In the stands there was sniping with songs about Jack Midson. Read the messageboards and you’ll read posts from people who not only think he should leave, but have thought it since [enter earliest game you can possibly imagine].
You’re on safe ground in attacking a manager, one day they will leave, usually under a cloud. In attacking him, you can be pretty certain that one day you’ll be proved ‘right’ that he was no good. This risk free prescience probably fills a gap in their sorry lives.
But Wilder will feel the pressure to change things more than anyone. He deserves the space and respect to make those decisions. Nobody should under-estimate what he’s achieved with a club saddled with a decade-long legacy of failure. If anyone deserves time to work it out, it’s him.
We know that he can over-analyse, as was evident in the post-Christmas blip last year, but given space and time, he’s a good man who will work to get it right. Putting pressure on him to make snap decisions is not likely to make the solution come any sooner.