Before the so-called Battle of Bramall Lane, back in September 2017, I chatted with Pete Turner who, in his own words, is “the Brixton arm of the Brighton, Brixton and Belgravia Blades” – aka the BBB Blades.
We talked footie, of course, but also a bit of John Denver, The Boss, Kell Brook and Test Match cricket, and had a generally convivial conversation – not something that can always be said when Blades and Canaries collide. So, ahead of what promises to be a spiky one this weekend, I returned to the calm of chez Turner for a catch-up. So… Pete?
Pete: Well, here we are again living proof that putting out a load of stiffs and a bunch of kids with £500 haircuts is the best indirect route to Nirvana and all its grotesque riches we pine for.
Less of the gut-wrenching doom and gloom that either set of fans will feel if they go home pointless this weekend. Our team/squad is somewhat different to last year stronger in midfield and upfront.
What’s happened? This isn’t the confident, buoyant and expectant Pete Turner I chatted to 16 months ago. Almost sounds as though you’ve spent one of those soul-wrenching seasons in the Prem before you’ve even got there!
It’s been a fine season, hasn’t it? Despite the defeat at Swansea, your surge to second had been relentless, and from what I saw of Saturday’s game, you were all over the Swans in the first-half and if Billy Sharp hadn’t, untypically, missed something of a sitter you’d have been kicking off on Saturday above us in the table. Or, was this just a ruse to be the chaser rather than the chased? 🙂
Billy ‘ I’m just a fat boy from Sheffield ‘ Sharp, not for the first time, has made all the difference this season with his above-average contribution and leads the charge of the pick two or even three from five strikers to support him. And with the centre-backs surging through the middle we have had an exciting season to enjoy up until the last game. The problem is consistency as with the other top ten clubs of this division.
It was about this time last year when we started to fall away and Fulham surged up the Division. This year we have a bigger and a more experienced squad that’s just about good enough to make the playoffs, and then who knows? We detest the great day out at Wembley to win the greatest prize in football – we’ve been there five times and lost each one we need to be in the top two.
We’ve certainly learnt to our cost just how prolific Mr Sharpe can be in and around the box, although I’m equally concerned that on Saturday, David McGoldrick – once of you know who – will come back to haunt us. We all recognised that for some time he was the one quality player in their squad but he was such a sicknote, rarely did they benefit from having such a good player.
For obvious reasons, along with Mr Wilder, he will cop some on Saturday but it wouldn’t be the first time it has all blown up in our faces!
You mentioned your proliferation of strikers, but you’ve got some good midfield options too, right? Oliver Norwood seems to be doing for you this season what he did for Fulham last.
We’ve been fairly lucky I guess… only two ‘big days out’ and one won and one lost, but can imagine the heartbreak it can induce if you’ve been there on five occasions with no joy. Top two is definitely the way to go – avoids [cliche klaxon] the lottery of the playoffs. Trouble is, four into two doesn’t go.
Yes, this is a true six-pointer for us. But not surprisingly we will be going for the win. All or nothing is Wilder’s battle cry. We always play with gusto and whilst no professional ever enters a contest to lose (but then there was always us v Barnet ??) I think what makes us different is the continuity of Wilder’s tactics and the ferocity in the way we play.
Wilder demands high levels of fitness from his players and I’m hoping this works to our advantage in stopping your usual practice of keeping possession, tiring out the opposition and then scoring a late goal or two. I know any talk of a wall is controversial to our friends over the pond, but we will certainly be needing O’Connell and Egan’s brick wall in front of Henderson to stand firm for the full 98+ minutes.
Interesting to hear you say that Wilder has them super-fit, because our lot are the same. The late goals that we’ve become (in)famous for are not just down to good fortune – as Leeds fans would have you believe – and not just because our style wears opponents down, but because they believe in what they’re doing, and stick to it, from the first minute to (as you put it) the 98th.
I’ve heard your manager asking for protection for your star midfielder, Buendia. It seems we won’t be holding back, we are going to let the referee do his job. Let’s hope its one of the better referees. I am sure we will see United going ‘all in’; we have attacking players on the wing and centre-halves who can play up front and double back. I know a defeat could leave us six points behind the top two but as a team, and as supporters, we only know one way to play and that’s to go for the win.
James Linington is the man who’s been handed the unenviable task of refereeing this one by the looks of it, although I have to confess to knowing very little about him. The interweb informs me he has refereed us once this season – when we beat Boro – and you twice (vs Villa and Reading, both of which were wins), but also that he likes flashing a yellow, averaging 3.8 per game. Perhaps more significantly, he’s dished out seven in two of his last three games.
To be fair to Farke, his comments about Buendia were more about the way he was kicked off the pitch against Birmingham rather than anything specific that he expects to occur tomorrow. I suspect Wilder has seized upon this as he tends to anything that can be used to stoke it up.
Big, noisy away following as per tomorrow?
It is highly unusual for the Blades not to sell out their ticket allocation but £35 a head and reports of £95 train tickets with engineering works making it more bus than train is enough to make any Canary fall off its perch let alone a sharp-edged Blade.
Anything else we need to know?
As is usual with United, we have the boardroom struggle going on in the background. This time, the owner’s are taking each other to court to determine who actually owns the club. Decisions about the future, including permanent signings, have been a worry.
But Wilder has steadily built a strong squad and I’m hoping it can get us to automatic promotion. Four into two (as you said) won’t go and every one of us is dreading that play-off route. Our last promotion spared us that but at the final whistle on Saturday we may have a better idea on whether to book that late spring holiday or to wait until the summer.
It may give us a guide but there’s still a long way to go mate. Defeat for either of us won’t signal the end if the chance of top two. Everything points to this going to the wire, and it does appear your Yorkshire counterparts are getting properly twitchy.
Talking of whom, your thoughts on Spygate?
Why have Norwich joined up with eleven other Championship clubs demanding an investigation? Surely you’re bigger than that. I am hoping we can both be up there with automatic promotion at the end of the season. I certainly won’t be rooting for dirty Leeds.
Seems to have been some misreporting on this in the Yorkshire press and the Daily Fail because all City have done is ask for ‘full disclosure’ of the facts, nothing more. Personally, I’d have just let it go, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask to be made aware of what’s actually happened.
From the outside looking in, it appears we’re generally loathed in the red half of Sheffield, all presumably dating back to that infamous 1-0 when Wilder blamed our bus driver and then some of your fans set about the City fans as they departed the away end. Your thoughts?
I think we’ve both come a long way since then. Every club has its so-called “supporters” we’re not proud of. Sadly such incidents are not unique as we ourselves can attest. Let’s hope fences have been mended and the game is played in the spirit of two good teams with an eye on automatic promotion matched by the respect of all supporters.
Fair comment that. Let’s hope cuddly Chris feels the same.
Finally, standard question… a prediction for Saturday?
We will be at the game and I’m making a brave prediction – 1-2 to the Blades
Thanks, as ever, to Pete for his time.
It won’t take any of Chris Wilder’s rantings and ravings to add the spice to this fixture. With both sides in the hunt for automatic promotion, there is now a genuine rivalry, rather than the one manufactured by the bad-tempered Blades’ boss following City’s victory at Bramall Lane last season. Wilder’s men have come out on top in both of the subsequent games, including an injury-time winner in the reverse fixture back in August, and are sure to provide a stern test of City’s promotion credentials. With the prospect of more angry Yorkshiremen ‘welcoming’ us to Elland Road next weekend and the return of Paul Lambert to ‘derby duties’ the week after, it’s set-up to be a fiery few weeks ahead and starting to feel a bit ‘season-defining’.
Penney predicts: The Wilderbeests will be thundering across the Carrow Road veldt. The outcome depends on a decent set of officials. Not knowing how that will turn out I’m going for a non-disastrous 1-1 draw.
Andy assumes: The first of three cup finals. Both teams will be bang up for it. Both sets of supporters will be bang up for it. Fantastic. I’m going for a nasty, scrappy, beautiful 2-1 win.
Gaz (G) guesses: If we exclude Siri and the ‘Oppo’, I’m bottom of the prediction table and have been all season. So based on innate ability to misread the signs, I’m 100% confident that Wilder’s wonders will triumph. So… 1-2 to the Blades.
Cookie concludes: I actually think City will win 2-1 BUT because I’m on a wretched run where almost all of my predictions go wrong, I’ll officially go for City 0 – Sheff Utd 1 and trust that my ‘curse’ brings us the points.
Stew suspects: A very much tougher proposition than Birmingham. But if we can hold our nerve and play our football, we’ll cause them problems. A draw wouldn’t be the end of the world, but a deep breath and … 2-1 City.
The oppo’s opinion: We will be at the game and I’m making a brave prediction – 1-2 to the Blades.
Siri says: The answer is City 4 – Sheff Utd 1