Blades looking to recapture early season highs - Interview
Tuesday, 20th Feb 2018 11:52 by Clive Whittingham
Sheff Utd blogger George Howson assesses the Blades’ excellent return to the second tier ahead of tonight’s meeting with QPR at Bramall Lane.
How would you assess your first season back at this level? Presumably very pleased...
Our start to the season was better than anybody could've dreamed for. We were looking like major contenders for promotion with huge wins against Wolves and Leeds. Since then, results have been harder to come by, albeit we've not been playing as poorly as the run would suggest. We've still got a shot at the play-offs, but even if we don't make top six, this has been a fantastic campaign by anybody's standards.
A slight downturn seemed to occur after the Coutts injury at Burton - is he that important or was it just a return to where this team should be?
Paul Coutts is the best passer of the football I've ever seen in a United shirt and undoubtedly one of the best in the division. That being said, we had been punching about our weight, team spirit, effort and cohesion can only get you so far, sometimes you need a bit of magic to win a game. Given our budget, we should be scrapping it out for relegation, so to be where we are is a might achievement.
How do you see the rest of the season going? Promotion a realistic aim?
Our season will go one of two ways, and the next few games will give us a good idea which path it will go down. We could rediscover our form with the new signings starting to gel and make the play-offs or we could drop off and fade into mid-table obscurity. I think we'll achieve the former scenario, promotion is a realistic aim but our only good chance is via the play-offs.
Player of the season candidates?
Leon Clarke soared to the top of the goal-scoring charts early in the season but has dropped off significantly since. George Baldock at wing-back has been quality since Kieron Freeman's injury, while John Fleck has been as impressive in the midfield as ever. The award, if it was to be given our now though, has to go to Mark Duffy. The attacking midfielder has been sensational this campaign, at times absolutely unplayable, he's been the difference. Whether he's scoring the goals himself, or setting them up with a free-kick or defence-splitting ball, he's always a threat.
Weak links in the team?
Perhaps the biggest weak-link in the team is our goalkeeper right now. Simon Moore is still suspended, while Jamal Blackwell is likely still injured, so Jake Eastwood could start on Tuesday. The academy graduate has shown quality in what little we've seen of him so far, but his inexperience at this level does worry me. Aside from that, Enda Stevens hasn't been performing the best recently, nor has Clarke, who is arguably still riding the wave of his early season performances.
Pictures – Action Images
Get two free £10 bets on Queens Park Rangers v Middlesbrough (or other matches) by opening a new account at William Hill. Place an initial bet of a minimum of £10 and William Hill will give you two £10 bets. You must enter the promotional code ''F20'' when signing up as a new customer.
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 29 bloggers
A Dale Fan Abroad - Reflections on Burton Albion 1 Rochdale 2 by DaleAddict
Lying in bed awake on Friday night I was struck by ‘the fear’. By around midnight it had consumed me, and all of my optimism for the season ahead was gone.
A Dale Fan Abroad - Introduction by DaleAddict
My 11-month old son is taking his afternoon nap. My wife is sunning herself on the balcony of our apartment in Salzburg, Austria. It’s the height of summer, but I have only got one thing on my mind; Burton Albion vs Rochdale.
A Hollywood script plays out in the Spotland sun by AtThePeake
It isn’t always easy being a Rochdale supporter. With the majority of the town’s footballing interest being soaked up by local behemoths Manchester City and Manchester United, the club’s attendances rarely break 3,000 home supporters.
Gylfi Not Irreplaceable- But Not Trying To Directly Replace Him Is Smart by BarneyLW
So the dust has finally settled. In what seemed like the most painstaking saga in living memory, Gylfi Sigurdsson is an Everton player. A man the club were silently resigned to eventually losing has moved on and like so often in the past, the club must plan for life without their star player.
Too many things for a title, but stop with the xenophobia accusations! by waynekerr55
I had planned to write this in a different fashion, but Bob Bradley's departure from the club changes a section of this blog. The conclusion was as expected. A seemingly good man and a tryer who simply wasn't up to the job. In short he should never have been given the job.
Queens Park Rangers Polls