Ask The Opposition – Manchester City vs Sheffield United (w/ BladesMad)

Manchester City are straight back to work in the Premier League, around 40 hours after their last clash – a 3-2 defeat to Wolves at Molineux. Pep Guardiola will be desperate to rejuvenate his players after catastrophically throwing away a two-goal lead against Nuno Espirito Santo’s men on Friday night, albeit playing with just ten men for around 80 minutes.

Next up, Sheffield United – the first meeting between the two sides in over a decade. Chris Wilder’s men have enjoyed a remarkable start to life back in the top-flight, going into the game against the Champions in 7th place – just three points off the Champions League spots. Ahead of this one, we spoke to independent Sheffield United page ‘Blades Mad‘, to get their view on a number of topics!

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Thanks for joining us lads! There’s only one place to start and that’s Sheffield United’s quite incredible first-half of the Premier League season! Did any of United’s fans really expect it to go this well?

There were plenty of doubters outside of S2 ahead of the season, and in most people’s minds we were dead certs to go straight back down! But Blades fans didn’t see it that way and know better than most that we’ve been written off numerous times under Chris Wilder and have defied people’s opinions.

The start we have made, however, couldn’t have been envisaged if we’re being honest. I was confident we’d make a good fist of it in the Premier League, but the start has been nothing short of remarkable. We head to the Etihad on Sunday unbeaten in all nine of our away games so far – the best start away from home for a newly promoted team in Premier League history! Hopefully after half of the season done, people will realise we’re no flash in the pan and have to be taken incredibly seriously.

Blades fans have been singing about going on European tours and away trips to Napoli, and whilst most of it is said in jest, who knows what we can achieve? I’m not sure what the ceiling of achievements are under Chris Wilder – I wouldn’t rule anything out.

(Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Given the remarkable job that Chris Wilder has done at Sheffield United to date, is there any concern at all that if this was to continue, he may be subject to attention from other clubs?

Good question. What I would say is that quite a few “high profile” jobs have become available recently and Chris Wilder (thankfully for us) was never genuinely linked with the managerial hotseats at any of those clubs. Surely if he was ever to be offered a job at one of the country’s top clubs it would have been now as his stock has never been higher.

So long as the board at Sheffield United are on the same page as Wilder, in terms of continuing to levitate this club, then he has the dream job and don’t see any reason why he’d want to leave. Wilder has never stood still in his managerial career, and now he and Sheffield United are in the dizzy heights of the top half of the Premier League, I’m sure he wants to put no stop to that. He is, afterall, the greatest manager in this football club’s history. I don’t think you’ll see many Blades fans argue with that!

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

At the start of the season, did you expect John Lundstram to be such a steal on Fantasy Premier League – he’s certainly become a favourite across the game!

Funny one this! As good as John Lundstram has been for us this season, having come out of the darkness so to speak having played only a bit part in our Championship season last term, his FPL exploits surely have to be put down to an embarrassing error on the FPL’s part.

I think I’m right in saying that they registered Lundstram as a defender at the start of the season. He’s never once played defence for us. He’s a midfielder and always has been. A box-to-box one at that! He’s chipped in with a few goals and assists so that has exaggerated his FPL points massively, being registered as a defender on the game. As good of a season Lunny is having, I’m afraid to say that the FPL made a huge cock up with this one! Sorry, Lunny!

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Given the success so far, how do you expect the Blades to conduct themselves in the January transfer window – Do any recruitments need to be made?

Chris Wilder has gone on record in saying he’s after “two or three” in January. The board have agreed a budget with the gaffer and we’ll see if and where that takes us during the window. It’s a fine line on trying not to disrupt a very together and in-form squad, but we do need bulking up a bit in certain areas of the team where we might be caught a bit short if injuries come about.

Suspect that Wilder may look for another forward to provide competition, maybe a midfielder also for the same reason, and I’d be looking to get more depth in the RWB position personally. An injury to the in-form George Baldock leaves us incredibly short in that position. Possibly need back up in that aspect. A few are likely to leave also, with game time extremely limited for some as we’ve had a very settled matchday squad, so it’s been hard to force their way in for some of the lads.

(Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

What is the view of Manchester City from a Sheffield United point of view – both clubs have experienced similar highs and lows in their history!

For me, over the past decade or so, City have been the best team to watch in the Premier League. The rise of the football club has been staggering, albeit with the obvious cash injection, but City have become one of European football’s real forces. The team have been a pleasure to watch, particularly under Pep where it’s some of the best football this country’s had the pleasure of seeing.

Looking forward to seeing the Blades at the Etihad; it’s been 14 years, and it’s certainly had a makeover since then. Such a top class facility! You’re right that both clubs have seen many lows and are now experiencing some of the better highs, although we’ve a long way to go to match Manchester City’s exploits! Our progress will do just fine for now, though! 

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

How do you see Sunday’s game going and how do you expect Chris Wilder to approach the clash?

Very intrigued as to how this one might go. Is there ever a good time to play City? If there is then maybe it’s just 44 hours after a taxing game at Wolves. For the record, I don’t think it’s fair that City have such a tight turnaround compared to United’s extra 24 hours or so, considering the extremely close proximity of games in this festive period, but then again I’m not sure we could field two separate world class XIs like City so that might be bit of a leveller haha!

Chris Wilder has gone on record in saying there’s “no free hits” for us in this league. Make no doubt he’ll be bringing his team to the Etihad to get a result out of this game, how likely that is I’m not sure, but I’d never write us off! City will be a wounded animal following Friday night’s loss at Wolves. We’ll have to be right on it. Our unbeaten record on the road in the Premier League this season will be tested to its absolute max on Sunday evening. If we somehow come away with that still intact, we’ll have done tremendously well.

(Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Sheffield United starting XI and score prediction?

Would be pretty easy to name our XI usually, but with the festive period bringing about many different problems such as fatigue and injuries, rotation is often considered by managers in this period. Thankfully we’ve managed to avoid any more suspensions. It’s difficult to predict how Chris Wilder will approach this one, considering the short turnaround in games. We’ll probably line up something like this: Henderson, O’Connell, Egan, Basham, Stevens, Baldock, Norwood, Lundstram, Fleck, McGoldrick, Mousset.

Score prediction: 1-1.


You can follow our guests here: @Blades_Mad

You can follow the author and City Xtra for live updates here: @FreddiePye_ | @City_Xtra

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