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Blades looking sharp as Beattie hits 7 in five

Sheffield United preview

By Gaving Mapstone

Form guide: Sheffield United last six

H Hull W 2-0 Quinn, Beattie
A Burnley W 2-1 Beattie, Sharp
H Sheff Wed D 2-2 o.g., Beattie
H Leicester W 3-0 Beattie (3)
A Preston L 1-3 Beattie
A Barnsley W 1-0 Sharp

This week’s preview is courtesy of the Sheffield United fans on BBC 606. Thanks to Lincolnshire Blade, Bend it like Beattie, Pigswinger and Blade Till I Die for kindly giving us the low down on United.

The Blades are in great form at the moment and have won seven of the last nine. Beattie has seven goals from the last five games and a player of his ability shouldn’t be playing at this level. In fact it seems strange when comparing the teams that we should be in the play-offs and Sheffield United look likely to spend a second season in the Championship. On current form City and United are poles apart and Blackwell will be wanting a good display for the last home match of the season. Any kind of result at Bramall Lane would be good and in the context of the tests to come I’d be elated with a draw. Automatic promotion now seems unlikely and it will be interesting to see what this does to the team. With City’s passing game stuttering and chances at a premium any hope of making it to Wembley will stem from keeping it tight at the back and looking to nick a goal. The worry about Saturday is that Sheffield United are just too good a team at the moment for us to shut them out. Home win. 

What kind of form are Sheffield United in at the moment?

LB - Following Saturday's defeat of Hull (with ten men) I think it would be fair to say we're the form side in the Championship.

BILB - We're on a roll We are scoring even with ten men.

P - Results speak for themselves and we have picked up some good wins since Bryan Robson's departure. The win against Hull sums up the belief that the players have at the moment.

BTID - On fire playing really well and working hard for each other.

What's your opinion of Kevin Blackwell?

LB - He's was a great number two to Neil Warnock - a lot of United fans credited him with much of United's success due to his coaching. He's come back in as number one and done a magnificent job - United are playing with passion and belief again, they're playing as a team, and would fancy their chances against anyone.

BILB - A very hard working man with a very good managerial career ahead of him. He can get the players and fans going when he wants.

P - I have total respect for the gaffer at the moment. he was a very good number 2 under Warnock and has so far proven any critics wrong. He is looking like he could be a very successful manager (hopefully with the Blades). He has enabled the players to regain confidence in their own abilities, which has been displayed on the pitch by everyone and in particular Michael Tonge and to a lesser extent, Naysmith.

BTID - Mr McCabe should give him a contract now for 3 yrs.  The man has got the team playing with passion and belief again unlike his predecessor who had us rolling over like dogs.

Will James Beattie be at Bramall Lane next season?

LB - Yes, I think he will. I don't think he has anything to prove to us but I think (I hope) he wants to stay and help us get promoted.

BILB - I believe he will. He has said he doesn’t want to leave and he has said it is down to the board.

P - As the old saying goes "MONEY TALKS" and if a Premiership team were to come in with "silly money" then it would be an indication of the board’s ambitions as to whether they accept or reject. Personally I think he will stay for another season as he seems to be enjoying his football again.

BTID - I would like to think so: says he's happy and feels respected, would like that respect paying back but at the end of the day the board will decide

Which players should City fans look out for and why?

LB - Apart from Beattie and Sharp up front, I'd keep an eye on David Cotterill - winger on loan from Wigan with serious pace and great crossing ability. Also, Matt Kilgallon - centre back who's really come on this season and is beginning to shape into the quality player we hoped he would.

BILB - Your old player Cotterill is looking good. Obviously it pretty much goes without saying to watch Beattie, a top goal scorer. Tonge is also in fine form. But I don't think this is the right question, you should ask who not to watch out for.

P - There are the obvious ones such as Beattie, Sharp and Cotterill who are all playing extremely well at the moment but personally I think the ones to watch are Tonge and Speed. they are developing a fantastic partnership in the middle of the park. Tonge is becoming a fantastic playmaker and for 90 years of age, Speed is a perfect example to young players of how long you can keep playing for if you look after yourself.

BTID - Tonge Blackies got him playing like a man possessed again. Beattie / Sharp for obvious reasons, Matt Killgallon a rock at the back also Gary Speed, still got it for his age.

What would it mean to Blades fans to see Wednesday relegated again?

LB - For the majority, short of United sneaking promotion, it would make our season!

BILB - What would it mean? It would be a sweet end to the season. I'm predicting it may be the end of Sheffield Wednesday soon. Good times ahead.

P - Wednesday who??? All fans will say to each other that it would make their season to see them go down. and I also would not be sad. But on the other side of that there is the prospect of not having the "derby" matches which are always good.

BTID - To be honest wouldn't bother me either way but do enjoy the derbies and the points off them

How do you rate your prospects for next season?

LB - If we can start next season like we're finishing this one, I'd expect United to be serious promotion contenders, certainly top six material, probably ought to be pushing for an automatic spot. I think we could've given West Brom a run for their money this season if only we'd turned things around earlier!

BILB - Right this is the question. If we had had Blackwell at the start of the season we would have finished first easy. No doubt. But next year it will probably be harder due to the teams coming down. I think we will be in a close fight for automatic next year, but definitely at least play-offs

P - Next season, if we keep the squad together and make a few additions then there is no reason why we shouldn’t be challenging for one of the automatic promotion places although this season is a massive chance missed as the league was there for the taking.

BTID - Should Watford and Palace hold there nerve and we miss out on play-offs we should definitely be pushing for automatic if we can keep the same management and form.  As for the teams coming down, we don’t have any fear of any of them.  Would expect Watford to be pushing again if they miss out, also Charlton and QPR.

As the season draws to a close what are your thoughts on the previous nine months?

LB - Until mid-February our season had largely been awful, a write-off really. However, the change in management seems to have galvanised United and given us Blades something to smile about as the season draws to a close.

P - What a rollercoaster ride!!! Up to February there was very little to be positive about but since the arrival of Kevin Blackwell, the atmosphere and optimism around the club is sky high. Things are again looking positive both on and off the pitch!

BTID - Nightmare until board got their act together. Only regret is the changes weren't made four games earlier.


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