Well well well. What on earth is this strange feeling we're all experiencing? Is this what it feels like to win a game of football that actually matters? It's been so long I'd actually forgotten. To commemorate the occasion, here's five things from our first win on the opening day in five years.
1) Mark Baevers and David Wheater
These two. THESE FUCKING TWO. What a partnership they look to be forming. When one makes a mistake, the other mops up. When one closes the ball, the other sits deep and holds the space. When one goes forward for a set piece, the other stays back and marshals the defensive line. They were in sync with one another all afternoon; winning headers, clearing danger with relative ease and, for the best part of the afternoon, keeping Sheffield United's forwards quiet. Part of Parky's philosophy is to build a very solid defensive unit, and these two are the seemingly unbreakable foundations. If they can both stay fit we'll be very tough to break down this season. Also, Mark Beevers shall now be known as Mark Baevers. You're welcome. What a fucking signing he is.
2) Jay Spearing
Outstanding in the holding midfield role pretty much all game. He made a few mistakes here and there; releasing the ball when he shouldn't have, misplacing passes and the like, but who doesn't? He also picked up a booking in the first half which slowed his game down somewhat, but by and large he was very good. He scored a brilliant goal but we all know he can hit them from distance, and who could blame him when a loose ball popped up on the volley, 30 yards out? It was begging to be smashed, like a fat Farnworth slut in Bamboogy Bolton on a Saturday evening. I actually shouted, "Hit that, you bitch!" when it came out to him. I'm delighted we've opted to keep Spearing because if (and that's a big if) we're to mount any sort of promotion challenge this season, he'll be integral in that anchoring role. He's way too good for this division.
3) Lawrie Wilson Isn't A Midfielder
This will anger Downthemannyrd Tom greatly, but I'm not even sure dear Lawrie's a footballer, let alone a wide man. Playing in front of the newly-signed White Cafu (aka Lewis Buxton) on the right-hand side of midfield, one can only assume he was there as extra defensive cover because Buxton was poor and clearly not match fit. We're in dire need of a couple more wingers in the squad, considering we only have Chris Taylor, Tom Walker and arguably Kaiyne Woolery at present. Chris Eagles is on trial at Accrington Stanley, just saying...
4) Liam Trotter & Josh Vela
I'll start with Trotter first because he wasn't on the pitch for very long. Fucking dreadful. His first touch was a wayward crossfield pass that missed its target, Dean 'Peroxide' Moxey', by a good 50 yards. He's absolutely shit and we need to bin him off, big time. Josh Vela was also uncharacteristically quiet today. Playing in central midfield with Darren Pratley, he looked lively (ish) in the first 20-30 minutes, getting forward to support our lone striker, my mate Gary Madine, but after that he faded into anonymity and hardly featured. I'm surprised he didn't come off around the 55 minute mark, when Mark Davies replaced Chris Taylor, but what do I know. Hopefully Josh can find his best position soon, which is at right back for me. We'll see.
5) Gary Madine
Speaking of my mate Gaz, I thought he did a good job up top on his own today. It's a tough shift, especially against a team like Sheffield United, but he held his own and acted as a pivot for the midfield to work from. He struggled more in the first half, only picking up scraps here and there, but was much better in the second. Replaced by Jamie Proctor with 15 minutes to go, he was obviously knackered. Proctor was pretty good too, although he didn't have much to do.
Another honourable mention goes to Mark Baevers for his set piece heroics. For those of you that didn't attend the game, we have this little throw-in routine where Baevers goes up top, stands at the front post and acts as a target man for the thrower. He then has the attention of both centre halves and the goalkeeper, and if he wins the ball and nods it down into the box, all it takes is someone to follow up and bury it. Decent.
We're now in the top half of a competitive football league for the first time since the opening day of the 2013/14 season thanks to a solid win, by all accounts. This victory sends a message to our rivals in League One: that we're not here to fuck around. Not by any stretch.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the pub.