Martin Smith Column: Sheffield United in title groove and have a tenner on Wednesday for the play-offs - Happy New Year, indeed

Billy Sharp  does a flip to celebrate the first goal against Oldham.  Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Billy Sharp does a flip to celebrate the first goal against Oldham. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
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It’s that time of year when, tragic celebrity deaths permitting, we can allow our optimism and the fizz to get the better of us. Caught between old year and new, these few days of ease and excess can lead to some pretty dodgy decisions.

That impulse, and on reflection ridiculous, shirt you had to have at the sales, the monastic New Year’s resolutions and the football predictions concocted in the full flow of good cheer.

Delighted Owls players at the final whistle after their win over Newcastle

Delighted Owls players at the final whistle after their win over Newcastle

We’ve all been there and regretted it by the time we put the Christmas tree back in the attic. But Sheffield will be the place to be in 2017.

Wednesday couldn’t possibly have ended the year on a higher note than going to St James’s Park and beating and outplaying a red hot and table-topping Newcastle.

And the Blades march on. One point off the top, aggressive, confident and with the division’s leading marksman in Billy Sharp they look favourite for automatic promotion, possibly as champions.

Don’t worry about wanting too much and jinxing your hopes. Fans can see there’s a different edge to their game now and a manager who can deliver. United will go up this time.

What about Wednesday? So close last May and showing signs they might be returning to their marauding best of last season.

Three wins on the spin - albeit one with a hint of good fortune - and a sparkling Boxing Day show has put them right back in the mix and in a clear promotion play-off position. Will they sustain it?

With key players coming in to something like top form they have a chance and a manager with the right attitude: “We are Sheffield Wednesday… we have a brand in the way we play,” says Carlos.

They’ve got to be worth at least a New Year tenner for the play-offs - make that £20 if they can bring West Brom winger Callum MacManaman to Hillsborough.

Happy New Year Sheffield, it’s going to be busy.

As for our local brethren Rotherham looked doomed until Paul Warne’s heart-on-his sleeve honesty and commitment became part of the team. Can they do it again? Why not?

Doncaster are flying and will go up, Barnsley are safe and building something good and Chesterfield will survive if they re-capture the form that brought them three wins in four before Boxing Day’s 3-0 defeat at Rochdale.

There we are, all sorted. Happy New Year.