Despite there being a game to win on Sunday, a lot of eyes inside Bramall Lane were fixed firmly on new signing, Jack Rodwell.
Rodwell, who had only arrived at the club on a full-time basis a few days prior, was thrust straight into the action by Chris Wilder.
He had big boots to fill, too. Stepping into the right-side centre-back role, Rodwell was filling the void normally occupied by club legend, Chris Basham.
It’s a difficult role to play. As we all know, the Blades play with their centre-backs pushing on and over-lapping. It was something Rodwell would have to get used to and get used to quick.
In fairness to the former Everton man, he did pretty well. After covering before why we think Rodwell would be a good signing for the Blades, he got off to a fine start.
A big impression
It was clear from the off that Rodwell had soaked up the information Chris Wilder and Alan Knill would have passed on to him about playing the role.
Yes, the opposition was from non-league, but this didn’t mean anything to Rodwell. He was obviously delighted to be out on the pitch.
It showed in his effort levels early on. Time and again he marauded down the right side with Kieron Freeman. In fact, after just 15 minutes, it threated to be a bit of a walkover if those two continued to bomb on as they did.
Rodwell won a number of tackles, overlapped Freeman when he could, and did his defensive work diligently. It was a shame, then, that he had to leave with what looked like an injury after just under an hour.
Class shining through
Of course, we don’t want to get carried away from one game. Especially an FA Cup third-round tie against poorer opposition.
But Rodwell showed enough in the game to suggest there’s a reason Chris Wilder signed him. He adapted to the role of attacking centre-back with relative ease. Naturally brought up as a midfielder, his comfort on the ball was obvious too in the final third.
As Wilder has already mentioned, you don’t play for Man City and Everton without having something about you. Yes, his time at Sunderland was somewhat checkered, but, hopefully, that is now well behind him.
If Rodwell can continue as he has started, then the Blades might have just pulled off a masterstroke signing.