SHEFFIELD UNITED (A); THE PREVIEW

17/08/18

Everyone hates a late bus, but possibly no-one hates them more than Chris Wilder. Sure the traffic was awful, but then you should leave a little earlier shouldn't you? Definitely don't turn up late, annoy the hosts and steal 3 points. If you do that, you're likely to make them mad. City head to Brammall Lane as Public Enemy Number 2, so we spoke to the charming Gav Puszczalowskyi for the lowdown.

Andy - After last season's impressive showing, how do you feel this infant season is shaping up for you so far?

Gav - Our season has started slowly with a home defeat to Swansea then a dismal defeat at Middlesbrough a few days later. We picked up our first win at QPR and we appear to be getting back to how we played for the vast majority of last season.

We have just signed midfielder Oliver Norwood who helped Fulham get promoted last season and he made his debut in the Carabao Cup midweek v Hull and even though we didn't win the game, he was superb and really lit up the midfield and made us look like the side we are used to watching. A high intensity attacking side that drives forward at every opportunity. We're still screaming out for a striker and fingers crossed, we may have one on loan before we play Norwich but Sharp has now played 2 scored 2 so he is in good form.

Even though our first two performances this season have been below par, we have started this season exactly how was started last season in terms of our points tally, 3 points from the first 3 games but last season at this stage we went on a run where we won 11 of our next 14 league games which resulted in us topping the table in November. Let's hope we can go on a similar run and get back to winning ways.

Norwood is a quality signing for this level I think, a classic yo-yo player though. It seemed to be a positive summer in terms of recruitment, so I have been surprised to see you start so slowly, albeit with 2 difficult opening games.

Has Wilder stuck to his inverted full-back approach? It appeared from results that it had maybe been figured out by teams towards the end of last season?

We are a 5-3-2 wing backs surging forward team, no doubt about it, that is definitely Plan A but Wilder can and often does change formations during a game. He did so for the 2nd half against Hull City during the week and we took complete control of the game so we will start out playing 5-3-2 but whether we finish playing that formation depends on how well Norwich counteract that.

Which brings us nicely on to one of the more memorable City games last season, where we came to your place, nicked a goal and the shithoused our way to a tetchy 1-0 win. A repeat would be invaluable from our own point of view having thrown 3 points away last Saturday. Has the animosity that game created died down up there or are we still Public Enemy number 2?

You're still Public Enemy Number 2. It's funny how rivalries can start from nowhere and what should have been a relatively normal Championship game last season for both teams has now sparked a real rivalry between 2 clubs 150 miles apart. I think it's fair to say Twitter helps too. Wilder did reference our history with Norwich in his post-match interview after we beat QPR so he hasn't forgotten, you haven't forgotten after we got revenge of sorts at Carrow Road and we haven't forgotten. It adds a real edge to the game this weekend and I like that.

Agreed, football would be much poorer without this sort of niggle. I expect Farke will be all too happy to rock up and try and repeat the feat and I imagine will hope to get under Wilder's skin early. If I was him, I'd get everything ready at the hotel beforehand and then be deliberately late.

What are you expecting from the game? We've improved on last year, at least on paper, and the first 45 minutes at least vs West Brom were hugely encouraging. We retain an amusing ability to shoot ourselves in the foot however, so unlike last year, I expect goals.

Given the fact that Norwich this season so far have conceded 7 in 3 games and we have conceded 7 in 4 games, I'm expecting more than just the one goal at Bramall Lane last season.

I'm more confident now we have Oliver Norwood in midfield, he created a spark that has given us a lift and our attacking play and the chances we created v Hull in the cup as I have mentioned is the best we have seen this season and we looked like the Sheffield United of last season.

If it is that United side you play I do fancy us IF we can take our chances, Leon Clarke is yet to get off the mark and I think his confidence in-front of goal is suffering as a result (we have David McGoldrick now and being a former Ipswich Town player he would love to score against you) but if you play the United side that played Swansea and Middleborough, and lost, you could seriously annoy Chris Wilder once more.

Can we do the second one then please?

We like to end runs like that (and so was born the "AlongComeNorwich" hashtag) so put all your money on Leon Clarke first goalscorer, following a flurry of inexplicably missed chances from us.
Having survived comfortably last season, I presume POs is the aim this (just like EVERYONE ELSE)?

I would say the aim is the play offs but I'd be happy to finish higher than 10th and on better form post-Christmas than we did last season.

We are very realistic with regards to the fact that we cannot spend millions and millions on a whole new team nor can we and nor won't we be paying 20k + a week for a player, hence why we are working tremendously hard to get a striker in and why we missed out on Waghorn (we do like our former Ipswich players) so we are a team that will take a long time to build on and improve as we cannot go out and blow everybody away with our transfer fees. But given the fact we missed out on the play offs by just 6 points last season and our form post-Christmas was average, if we can improve on that this season then the play offs is a realistic aim.

I tipped you for the top 6 pre-season as I think that Wilder has the right approach in terms of knowing how he wants to play and then buying players that fit that style, which doesn't seem to be as common as it ought to be...

So, let's finish with a score prediction, we've both alluded to expecting lots of goals, so I'm going to be contrary and say 1-0 in a beautiful repeat of last September.

Well we have only failed to score against Middlesbrough at their place this season and that's because at the moment, Clarke would fail to hit the water if he fell out of a boat but we are creating chances, Sharp is scoring goals so I will give you your goal because we are conceding at the moment but I say we will win 2-1.

But that all depends if you turn up on time of course....

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Improvements in the entertainment stakes but ultimately it counted for nothing. Nick Hayhoe tells you about his beer fueled afternoon in the sun, which was all going so well for 30 minutes.

Urgh. Just like that a fair start to the season, becomes a meltdown. Dughall McCormick headed off to Brammall Lane and found it was actually not the end of days.