Football: Cheery Bassett goes with flow

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The Independent Online
Sheffield United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Flo 8, Ward 43, 57

Watford. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Attendance: 16,820

WITH THE emergence of the Sheffield United manager Dave Bassett as the leading advocate for freedom of movement for managers, he took no chances with the referee Jim Rushton yesterday and spent most of the 90 minutes seated in the safety of the stand before being awarded a rousing cheer when he jogged round the pitch to the dugout midway through the second half.

The game was well and truly over by then, however, the Blades throttling down, with a comfortable 3-0 lead. They really had not had to break sweat all afternoon after their Norwegian international, Jostein Flo, pulled off the feat that had eluded him in the World Cup - scoring a goal.

In the eighth minute Paul Rogers stabbed a pass into the Watford penalty area from the right wing and Flo managed to get a toe to the ball and squeeze it into the net between Kevin Miller and post. The big blond striker also had a say in United's second two minutes from the interval when his physical presence so confused the Watford defence that they allowed Roger Nilsen's free kick to float as far as Mitch Ward who volleyed home.

Eleven minutes after the resumption, Ward equalled his goal tally for the whole of last season with a score that certainly would have brought his manager to his feet had he been in the dugout. Glyn Hodges played a corner beyond the Watford penalty box to Ward, all of 25 yards out. The little midfielder gave the ball a lift and volleyed another right-foot screamer through the crammed goalmouth and beyond Miller.

Mr Rushton's version of imposing football's brave new world brought seven bookings, most of them for good, old- fashioned fouls. But Watford's Craig Ramage found himself seeing yellow for delaying a free kick and his goalkeeper suffered the same fate for disputing a corner.

Jamie Moralee, on the other hand, got away with a penalty box dive that would have had Jurgen Klinsmann green with envy. The subtlety of this Watford new signing apart, it does not look like being a Brave New World for Watford this season, though Bassett's United have retained most of their mundane pragmatism and that might be enough to return them to the Premiership.