View from the opposition: Sheffield United riding a wave of optimism as they prepare to host Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 September 2017 | UPDATED: 08:30 16 September 2017
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Ahead of the Canaries’ clash with in-form Sheffield United we spoke to JACK MALEHAM, a Bramall Lane season ticket holder of 15 years, to find out more about the Blades.
Have you been surprised at just how well United have started the season?
A little. I didn’t think we would struggle having played so well last season, winning 100 points. But I didn’t expect us to be sitting quite as high as third after seven games. The football we are playing is fantastic, every player knows their role and we are riding the wave at the moment!
What has been the secret to Chris Wilder’s success in recent years?
Uniting the club. He has got everyone from the players, coaching team, fans, cooks and cleaners feeling part of the club and it’s created a real feel good factor around the club. The atmosphere at Bramall Lane is back to how it was under Neil Warnock and there is a real togetherness and positive feeling around the club which has been missing for some years.
Which players have impressed so far this season?
For me, Paul Coutts has been the outstanding player. Having played in the Championship before we were looking to his experience to keep things together in the midfield and he hasn’t disappointed. He’s played the likes of Tom Huddlestone, Jack Rodwell and Bradley Johnson off the park in recent weeks and has dictated games. Billy Sharp has also been key too, he’s netted four times already this season and is a real talisman for us up front.
And which have struggled to make an impression?
I don’t really think that anyone has struggled to be fair. The likes of John Lundstram, Nathan Thomas and George Baldock all signed in the summer and have yet to really play enough minutes, but all have made positive impacts in their limited minutes.
It’s still early of course but do you think United can sustain a play-off push?
Quite honestly I think I and most other Blades fans would be perfectly happy with a mid-table finish this season. There are teams with much bigger budgets in this league who I would expect to pick up some form soon which makes it much more difficult. That said, who would have thought Huddersfield would go up last year? If we can get to Christmas and be in and around it then Wilder has the pedigree in the transfer market to add strength to the squad and who knows?!
Have you been surprised to see Norwich struggle to get going?
To be fair yes I have. Norwich are one of the clubs in the Championship with a big budget and big name players and I expected them to be challenging for the top six this season. It’s still early days for Daniel Farke however and he needs time to get it right and make his mark on the team.
Which of the City players will you be most wary of?
Nelson Oliveira stands out as a real threat. He is a goal-scorer at this level and I believe he already has four in seven this season, which makes him a danger man. I also have always rated Wes Hoolahan, he has real quality on the ball and has the ability to unlock defences so those two combining would be my main worry.
Do you see United as favourites going into the game?
I think we have to be. We’ve won three out of three at home in the Championship this season and each of our last four league matches whilst City have struggled somewhat.
And finally, what is your prediction for the game?
It will be another tough game but with our current momentum I have to go with a Blades win. 2-1.
• You can follow Jack on Twitter @jackmaleham7