As we seek to patch the holes in our sinking ship with fresh loanees free from any relegation traumas the whole world seems to becoming a little surreal. And even more so if you were to cast our minds back 12 months to the New Year of 2008 and recall how we were eagerly calculating how many points we would need to get an automatic promotion spot.
I remember looking intently at the Table and trying to figure out what we would need come May. And along with several others I had worked out that the bottom team usually finished with around 40 points and that in the fizzies you could expect a points gap of another 40 between top and bottom. That gave a magic figure to aim for of around 80 points for the season to ensure your worries were over. At this point last season after 28 games bottom placed Colchester had 26 points, leader West Brom had 51 and the Addicks in 6th, had 44. If you care how it finished the same two bracketed the rest with Colchester on 38 and West Brom on 81.
I say all this, not for nostaglia reasons, but because I happened to notice that, although last season the gap after 28 games was only 25, this year due to the pathetic performance of the bottom team - and I suppose the large gap between the top three and the rest - the gap already stands at 40 points. Only God knows what it will be after 46 games and the end of a dismal year.
How few of us could have forecast that this season we would be taking the place of not only Colchester, but a poor Colchester at that. So perhaps we should be thankful for a weekend when we can forget about League points and the fact that after 18 fizzy games without a win, we only have another 18 left.
The shame is that after four defeats already this season to Sheffield teams its a pity that there's another one waiting around the corner, defeat that is. Fourth in the table, but tantalizingly, with only the ninth best home record, the Blades have suffered only 3 home defeats this season to Reading, Wolves and Burnley but have drawn 4 games, with the likes of Cardiff, Coventry, Southampton and Palarse all getting away unbeaten.
Just don't let them score first as they are one of a dwindling number of teams - now only 7 - that have not lost after going in front. They've done it 13 times and have won 12 of them. And Parky can forget his half-time notes if we're losing after 45 minutes - 10 times the Blades have been winning at the break and haven't lost one of them. In complete contrast the Addicks have been leading 8 times at the break and lost half of them....And to add to their confidence for the game, United have been losing 7 times at half-time and have only won one of them.......against us 3 weeks ago!
Current Form And in another stark comparison with the Addicks, United have suffered just 2 defeats in the last 18 games ( Reading and Wolves) and will approach Saturday with complete confidence after already having beaten us 3-1 at Bramall Lane just three weeks ago. And the Blades are now unbeaten in their last 8 League and Cup games.
Subs: Elloit, Youga, Racon, Todorov, Gray
Verdict Already relegated to the role of minnows trying to achieve the impossible, I personally don't expect to see any giant-killing here. And you don't need me to tell you that the chance of a revival this weekend is as remote at the chance of Kaka changing his mind about City and deciding instead to join the Addicks.