Voices on the game... Sheffield United
Wed 01 July 2020, 17:44|Tottenham Hotspur
We're back at Bramall Lane for the first time since 2015 on Thursday night, and we mark the occasion with a 'voices' panel including Michael Brown, who played for both teams, Jose Mourinho, Chris Wilder and Richard Sutcliffe, who covers Sheffield United for The Athletic...
Sheffield United correspondent, The Athletic
“Arsenal (FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday) was much, much better. They should have won at Villa, although the performance wasn’t great and maybe on general play, a point was about right. Newcastle, they were poor second half, although the red card (John Egan on 50 minutes) did change things. They were poor at Manchester United, but on Sunday, it was much, much more like what you expect from them, going forward and playing at a proper tempo. That was a step in the right direction. The horrible feeling after those first three games (on the Premier League's return) was that a season that was going to be so good - and still is going to be good, even if they finish 12th it’s a great season - might fizzle out a little, and you didn’t want that. There is a lot more confidence now that they will have a real go in the run-in.
“I was at the game at Tottenham earlier in the season, and they were really good that day. They were in their pomp then. They played Manchester United just after that and played them off the park, 3-0 up, although it ended up finishing 3-3! They were flying at that stage and to be fair, they were doing well in February, March, just before lockdown, they were unbeaten in six. The encouraging thing on Sunday was they played at a good tempo. I was worried not having their fans at Bramall Lane would make a big difference, but they got better as the game went on, and were unlucky in the end (Arsenal won 2-1 in the added time). They will go for it against Spurs, as they always do, especially at home. It’s a bit of a different Spurs team that they would have been playing in the (originally scheduled) game in April, Harry Kane, Son both back, that could be a factor, and Jack O’Connell has been missing, he’s been a big part of it for Sheffield United on the left side of the central defence with the overlapping and the overloads. He was back in training on Tuesday, but he’s not played for two weeks. Jack Robinson has done well though, and what he does bring is a bomb of a long throw, so look out for that! Both teams need to win, both need the points and it has the makings of a cracking game.”
174 appearances for Sheffield United, 1999-2004
64 appearances for Spurs, 2004-2006
650 career appearances with further spells at City, Wigan, Fulham, Pompey, Leeds and Port Vale
Pundit with Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC
“If you look at the games after coming back, they were better than Aston Villa and had a ‘goal’ that wasn’t given. That’s an extra two points and the confidence that goes with it. Then they went to Newcastle and there was nothing in that game, but John Egan picked up a soft yellow card, and was then sent off for a second yellow for pulling a shirt, and suddenly that changed it and they ended up losing 3-0. Manchester United, they didn’t really show up there, 3-0, United quite strong, players back, deserved to win. They were better against Arsenal in the FA Cup on Sunday, but it’s about small details. Chris Basham gave a penalty away, they had chances, it wasn’t to be. They are still in a good place and Thursday could be a really good game. Spurs have all their players back, Sheffield United will be at it, and I’m sure it will be interesting. I’m going to be there, I’m covering it for Five Live and I’m looking forward to it.”
Head Coach, Tottenham Hotspur
"They are doing fantastic. Chris Wilder is doing an amazing job. I don’t think many people would expect to be doing what they are doing. You can clearly still say that they are still dreaming of a Champions League spot if the fifth gives that possibility. They are fighting for Europa League spots, and that is amazing for team that comes from the Championship. If they had a couple of negative results after the lockdown, those results don’t tell me much. The defeat against Newcastle, playing with 10 men for such a long time, is not a dramatic result. To lose at Old Trafford is not a dramatic result, and to be so unlucky to lose against Arsenal in the FA Cup in the last minute, is not dramatic. So the results are not something that are going to change my idea. They are a very good team, they are the result of the fantastic work that Chris Wilder is doing there. Looking at their match against us at our stadium, they were so, so good, so strong. My players, they felt that, and they know that they are very difficult opponents tomorrow."
Manager, Sheffield United
"Spurs will be raring to go. They've got two top strikers back. They've got one of the top strikers in Europe back playing for them so they are stronger. Spurs are a huge football club with a stellar squad and an incredible manager and they will see this game as one they should be winning, that's for sure - and rightly so from their point of view. From our point of view it's not an issue of the overall structure or amount of effort but games are decided in both boxes. If you look at the goals we have been conceding they are really poor individual mistakes. Up until now we've had the platform to produce very good performances because we have been disciplined defensively and not given away soft goals. We've not been clinical enough and certainly, I think seven out of the eight goals we have conceded have been individual errors and in some cases a series of errors. It's something we have to cut out, the basic errors are really hurting us and it comes down to concentration, discipline and awareness. Cut out the individual errors and I am sure it will be a close game and I am sure we will because we are determined that this season doesn't just fade away."