Punditry, schmunditry! Stan is just rubbish at it!
Even by his own inept standards Stan was embarrassingly bad on Saturday. First was the, oh so insightful, 'Ha, ha, ha? if that back four keep a clean sheet I'll eat my hat…'
Followed closely by 'Sheffield have got too much up front for us today…'. Then there was this beauty 'We could sit here until midnight and we won't score…' And then Stan's piece de resistance on 80 minutes. 'Crofty's legs have gone, he's out of the game…'
The delirium that erupted on 92 minutes was probably all the sweeter for the pessimistic ramblings of the previous couple of hours, but this doesn't disguise just how woeful Stan's predictive ability is.
Immediately prior to Crofty's clincher, the game appeared to be heading for a final whistle that would have been greeted with the, now usual, mixture of polite applause, groans and a smattering of boos. The whole thing had seemed all a bit half-paced and ? what's the word Stan's looking for? Clunky!
Neither side appeared able to conjure up quite enough quality to break the deadlock. Oddly enough the only bits of genuine class appeared to come in pairs; hand in hand as it were. Kenny's save from Sibierski, Marshall's save from Webber being two examples, but by and large this wasn't the sort of fare to set the pulse racing.
There was plenty to ponder, but little to applaud. Stan appreciates that he is returning from injury but how on earth was Beattie one of the most feared players in the Premiership? Even more baffling, how did a manager of the quality of Moyes blow a king's ransom on him? Sharp was another player to keep half an eye on. Grant wanted to spend ?2 million on him, and he wasn't the only one? err? why?
City's starting line-up also gave the boys discussion points aplenty. Stefanovic's absence was clearly enforced, but the back four hardly had a Dixon, Adams, Bould, Winterburn look of unity about it.
It really was a case of into the unknown. Roeder's logic in playing the left and right footed pairing in the centre was obvious but having only seen Grounds play for a few minutes and Omozusi only slot in at centre-half in friendlies, Stan had no idea what to expect, other than shed loads of goals for the Blades!
Therefore given the greenness of the 'unit', they did very well. Bar the odd slip, (literally) they performed with great aplomb. Marshall seemed to sense that he had an additional responsibility and subsequently commanded his area in the way that Roeder had been demanding for nigh on a year now.
His late save from Webber was top draw in timing and execution. Just how much it meant to him was highlighted moments later with a 90-yard dash to join in the 'his legs have gone…' Crofty-generated celebrations.
Watching Sibierski ply his trade through the middle was an equally interesting distraction. Much is expected of him, and considering his pedigree that's fair enough. He's a clever player, no doubt at all, but he's also a tired player. Three games in a week was always going to be a big ask for him and the fact he has come through unscathed, with a goal and an assist to his name, is credit to him.
The middle of the park also proved an interesting battle ground. The plodding but wily Speed pitted against an ever-revolving City midfield. Fozzy and Pattison/Russell certainly weren't embarrassed, but similarly, they didn't boss the game either. It seems to be Fotheringham's inability to take a game by the scruff of the neck that is causing a few Radio Norfolk 'call in' callers to turn on him.
This does seem harsh, but there can be no doubt that we need a physical presence in there. A true box-to-box man. We haven't had a player of this ilk since Francis spat the dummy and skulked off to Wigan a few years back. There's a definite need for someone in there who rides a tackle and puts in the odd 'eliminator'!
And so to the finale. Oh, that sweet finale! In true Stan 'the pundit' style, Croft's one-two with Cureton provoked a mere raising of the eye brow and a 'He's hardly going to hit that with his left is he..?' The rest is history!
As 'Jonah' Millar texted later on Saturday evening: 'It's such rare moments of pure ecstasy that make it all worthwhile and remind me why I keep doing this…'
Stan couldn't have put it better himself!