Martin Smith column: Listen, the Blades are going up...

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“I suppose we might make the play-offs now then…”

So goes the joke among traditionally understated Sheffield United fans as their team takes a seven-point grip on an automatic promotion spot from League One after what manger Chris Wilder described as their ‘comprehensive dismantling’ of one of their nearest promotion rivals.

But even the driest, dourest hard-bitten Blades must start to believe now. After six years in the old third division United fans have been here before – it’s almost an annual event. But there’s a different air this time, a belief and a poise about the way the team goes about its work. They believe in themselves and it shows. And they’ve got Billy Sharp’s goals.

Of course that won’t stop Wednesdayites referring to their rivals as ‘chokers’ but it’s looking increasingly like they’ll be playing each other again next season in the Championship – unless of course the Owls can find a promotion run of their own between now and May.

Sheffield soon back in the big-time? Steady on.

n “Look, listen…” “Listen, look…”

It’s the radio and TV co-commentators’ new catch-all attention grabber and its driving us nuts.

“Hey Listen, look, Arsene Wenger won’t be happy with the way his players failed today or: “Look, listen, that’s the kind of quality that can turn a game.”

‘Listen’ in this context was probably started by Roy Keane years ago.

He would use it for emphasis when he delivered one of his tough-love assessments.

Now it’s Martin Keown, the Uruk Hai of the TV gantry with his hit-man stare who’s taken the genre on with help from the Michael Owen Hargreaves’ moany try-to-say-what-people-won’t-expect-but-end-up-saying-exactly-what they-did expect school of co-commentary.

Look, Roy Keane or Martin Keown are talking to you - you’re bloody well listening for all your worth anyway.

Especially when they’re co-commentating on football matches and damning with faint phrase the worst foibles of football and players.

But former Arsenal defender Keown is most easily remembered for his screaming and brutishly contorted features as he slammed his arm down on Ruud Van Nistleroy’s head to celebrate the Dutchman missing a last-minute penalty against Arsenal for Manchester United in 2003.

Hey listen, what would Mr Keown make of it if one of those landed in his commentators’ in-tray one Saturday tea time?