Norwich’s fine victory at Bramall Lane has created many headlines, some for more unsavoury reasons than others. Due to popular demand (one person on Wrath of the Barclay asked nicely) we decided to revisit proceedings with Blades fan Gavin Puszczalowskyi who kindly helped us preview the match last week.
Jon: Norwich's unexpected victory at the weekend seemed to upset Blades fans, some more than others. The match has been marred in more ways than one, but more on that later. How did you see things?
Gavin: I saw things as the perfect storm for Sheffield United. I referenced that Clayton Donaldson maybe missing due to injury but in no way foresaw the loss of Leon Clarke and Billy Sharp. The Blades have 5 strikers on their books and 4 are presently injured. Ched Evans on a normal given Saturday would have only made the bench at best but given he needs an operation to sort out an injury, if we have our full quota of strikers available he would not feature at all.
But this is football. It is what it is and you have to get on with it and the Blades did. We played well as the stats show but we lacked firepower and given the injury situation you can understand why. Add to the mix that Norwich took the lead then clung onto it for the whole match. Yes there was time wasting, yes the dark side of football was on show but if United take the lead early at Wednesday this weekend and do the same to cling on and win then most Blades will be delighted. In football you have to do what you have to do to win. It's that simple.
I think the frustration and the annoyance of the whole day got to Chris Wilder a little bit, had we won we would have gone top of the league, and sadly the frustration boiled over to some fans after the game but in football you have no option to roll the sleeves up and go again.
Jon: Yeah, let’s talk about Mr Wilder. Or as Norwich fans now know him, Blubby McBlubface. I referenced in the preview that I’d been impressed with him, and you certainly talked him up, yet his press conference felt like he let himself down a bit. Ok, a lot. There was obscure references to team sheets not being handed in on time, bus drivers, not coming out bang on the half time bell, it all felt like an episode of The Office gone wrong and Wilder was in full Brent mode. How did this go down with Blades fans?
Gavin: It didn't really register with the Blades fans to be honest. Some liked the fact it showed his passion for the club and the fact he was hurting. I personally think he let his guard slip too much and he will look back and probably regret it but he will tell you football is a game of emotions.
The less you lose, the more it hurts when you do and this hurt Wilder due to the circumstances before the game and the situations during it. It was like having Neil Warnock back for a day.
Chris is an honest guy, that's why the players love him and the supporters adore him. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he tells it like it is, like a proper Yorkshireman but when you're in front of the press you need to rein it in a lot of the time and to be honest, he does. He is very diplomatic and complimentary to the opposition and very controlling of his emotions win lose or draw. But as mentioned, this seemed to be the perfect storm for the Blades and I think it that had a huge effect on Chris Wilder.
Jon: Fair play. He did have a lot to say about Norwich’s time wasting too, which from those I’ve spoken to who went to the match, didn’t think it extended beyond the usual gamesmanship. How did you see it?
Gavin: I think it's the fact it started to happen so early on in the match that annoyed a lot of the Blades fans. But when you are losing and chasing a game everything is time sensitive. The clock ticks down quicker, everybody seems to take an age to do what it is they are doing, goalkeepers with goal kicks, throw ins, corners, substitutions etc.
I am fortunate enough to watch sport and a lot of football for a living, not just my beloved Blades but many teams around the world and I have seen many a side get a result where it is not expected and they do not get those results by playing like Real Madrid or Barca, they go there and put into effect a game plan and if that game plan is trying to shut a game down and frustrate and annoy the opponents after they have taken the lead then OK. It's not pretty, it's not brilliant to watch but as I have said, you do what you have to get the points. Burton did it to you, you did it to us.
Sheffield United fans will see it from a completely different perspective from Norwich City fans because we lost. Simple as that. But I dare say over the course of a season we will do the same to some teams away and be delighted and it will happen to you at Carrow Road and you will be annoyed. That's football.
Jon: That’s as rational answer as you’ll find from your fanbase I’d wager. Aside from executing their game plan, what did you make of City’s performance? Was there anyone who stood out in particular?
Gavin: I thought Yanic Wildschut had a good game, took his goal well and he was a thorn in our side. It was nice hold up play by Jerome in the build up. Josh Murphy had his spells too where he looked dangerous.
The performance from Norwich was OK, but, and I do not mean to take anything away at all from your victory, but the reason I am not annoyed by the defeat is my conviction that if we had Billy Sharp, Leon Clarke or Clayton Donaldson available I believe it would have been a different game and outcome.
I did fear in my preview that you were starting to put a run of games together, your confidence is building and you've stopped leaking goals. You did enough to get the points and I have no issue with that at all. The game at Carrow Road will certainly have an edge now when we meet again later in the season.
Jon: I can’t disagree with that, it sounded like you were toothless up front, although some of that may have been down to our new found defensive resolve. Timm Klose’s return to the squad has been huge, surprising though given he struggled in the Championship last time out.
As you say, the return fixture is bound to have plenty of needle, not least because of supporter trouble after the match. The scenes sounded pretty bad and weren’t helped by South Yorkshire Police’s claims they’d arrested two Norwich fans, which turned out to be Blades supporters. Still, not like them to make a mistake is it? I hear its not the first time you’ve had trouble at Bramall Lane, are you happy the club are being proactive enough in stamping it out?
Gavin: Every club has it minority unfortunately. It's certainly no excuse for what happened and it is appalling behaviour that needs to be stamped out and removed.
Sheffield United have made a statement and taken measures to ban those found to be involved in any trouble at any game and I am more than happy with that. It's a real shame because it doesn't take long to give the club a bad reputation, a reputation the club do not want or need. It also detracts from the many decent Blades fans who follow their club all over the country, mingling, joking and drinking and getting along with fans of opposition teams with no trouble what-so-ever.
We had an incident at Middlesbrough earlier this season with some crowd violence after the game. The Blades had a perfectly good goal ruled out at the end of the game and we lost 1-0. Obviously tensions and emotions are high. Immediately after the game both sets of fans are free to leave the stadium to mingle and walk away from the ground together. All it takes is one comment, one song, one idiot and you have an issue.
My honest thought is if you cannot control your frustrations or your anger and you have to vent that out in a way that hurts another football fan, regardless of who they support, then you have no place in football at all. You are not welcome.
But if you are going to release both sets of fans immediately after the game so they are together then police it. Supervise and control it. If you sense the game has been heated and emotions are running high then hold back the away fans for 10 mins. Prevention is better than the cure. Hold back the Blades at Middlesbrough; hold back the Norwich City fans at Bramall Lane.
In a perfect world you shouldn't have to do this but as I have mentioned, every club has its minority and unfortunately you only ever seem to find them too late and this happens. But when the scum do pop up and make themselves known in the worst way possible, find them, ban them and ban them for life.
Jon: Couldn’t agree more Gavin. Look forward to welcoming you at Fortress Carra Rud later in the season and having a catch up prior to the game. Hopefully your coach driver sets off on time….
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