After the play-off final last season, many Sheffield United supporters would, I expect, be looking for a similar finish this season. You currently sit 10th, seven points off the play-offs with six games left, do you feel you can finish in that top six?
I’m not so sure if I believe we can do it, mathematically it can be done whilst it will mean we would need to rely on teams around us dropping points and United winning the next five out of six games remaining!
After 40 games last season the Blades were fifth, 15 points better off than at this point last season. Has something gone wrong this season, or are the team still playing as well but just not getting the results?
It’s been no secret that the Blades have suffered a mountain of injuries and with what was a small squad to begin with has meant that we have relied on loan players – some of which hasn’t suited Mr. Blackwell’s style of football.
In 2008-2009, the Blades had an exceptional away record, going unbeaten for 11 on your travels and conceding just 17 goals away from Bramall Lane all season- this season you’ve won just four so far away, and recently lost seven on the bounce. What’s gone wrong away from home this season? Is there a different style of football being deployed?
Season in season out the Blades have regularly had an unacceptable away record but last season was something different, we played decent football and dominated teams. However this season is something different and the continuous change in squad selection week in week out hasn’t helped.
Ironically your 41st game last season was also at home against Barnsley. It finished 2-1 then, do you expect a similar result this season?
I would like to think so, but I will be happy with a Blades win either way. The last two seasons though have proved that a similar score line has occurred in both fixtures. During the 2007-08 season the Blades won both fixtures 1-0 whilst season’s campaign proved a 2-1 result at both venues in favour of United so maybe this will end 2-2 like the earlier encounter at Oakwell.
I get the feeling that the supporters have a mixed view when it comes to Kevin Blackwell, is the general consensus that he’s the right man to lead the Blades, or do you feel there’s a change in the air this summer if you don’t make the playoffs?
I’m afraid I have to sit on the wall on this one as I am caught up in two minds. All season long we have suffered with heavy injuries to our players and the suspension handed to Paddy Kenny also hasn’t helped. However the style of football hasn’t been to my liking and when the offering has been acceptable United have shown that on the day we can beat teams
Blackwell has constantly gone on about injuries this season- how bad is the injury situation for the Blades, and is that the key reason you are where you are?
The injuries sustained have been serious, looking recently the situation has been so bad that against Scunthorpe United only one of our defence (including keeper) is on
the books full time – the rest are on loan. I believe that this is a key factor in our demise this season, I’m sure that we would be holding at least sixth spot had it not been for niggling injuries.
Barnsley lost every game against Sheffield United under Simon Davey but managed a draw under Mark Robins back in November, what have you made of the Reds under Robins this season?
I have been able to attend some Barnsley fixtures whilst my beloved Blades aren’t in action (or away) and apart from a slightly different style of football I wouldn’t say that it is much different from the Davey days; having said that he hasn’t quite had the time to introduce his own players yet.
Who in the Sheffield United side should we be most wary of this weekend, and which player(s) will you be glad to see exit the Lane this summer?
I would like to see Lee Williamson start on Saturday, since he signed from Watford he has impressed me (when he hasn’t been injured!); he’s strong in tackle and knows how to control a ball – he would be a key asset in the team.
As for players exiting I’m not quite sure which players I would like to see, though I can’t say that I am a massive fan of Ryan France or Jordan Stewart.
Which Barnsley players impress and worry you most?
I’ve always made it known that Hugo Colace and Daniel Bogdanovic are favourites of mine and would welcome them both at Bramall Lane, as I understand it though the latter is out with an hamstring injury and considering he has scored in the previous two fixtures against us it might not be a bad thing from our point of view.
At the back I don’t think that Stephen Foster is having the best of seasons and with Darius Henderson in attack may struggle against a tough opponent and I would half fancy ‘Big D’ to find the net again in this fixture on Saturday.
Where do you see both sides finishing come May?
I think that it will be a tall order in the Blades quest to finish in the top six, though we might as well go for it whilst we have a chance. As for Barnsley they will be more than happy at a mid table finish after two seasons of looking over their shoulders at the bottom three.
To read Paul's preview for tomorrow's game click here