Alan Biggs’ Sheffield United Column: Chris Wilder’s Blades must approach ‘free-hit’ Norwich test this weekend with freedom and adventure that has got them to this point

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Norwich City v Sheffield United. It’s big, in modern parlance “huge.” But let’s take a step back from the hype. Let’s take a level view of it.

Imagine the worst for starters. A Blades defeat. It would put United six points behind Norwich and potentially seven adrift of Leeds - if Marcelo Bielsa’s side win at Rotherham on Saturday.

The worst case scenario means still being in touch with the top two and relatively comfortably inside the top six.

A great position that anyone in or around Bramall Lane would have gladly accepted at the start of the season.

Of course, that’s not the way Chris Wilder and his team will be viewing this weekend. Nor should they. It’s opposite to the approach that’s got them where they are.

But this is not about being negative or fearing the worst. It’s just an attempt to put things into perspective - and head off the kind of damaging reaction that might follow United dipping at Carrow Road in the wake of their narrow defeat at Swansea.

Kieran Dowells languid skills add to the either/or range of the number 10 role in tandem with Mark Duffy (Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

Kieran Dowells languid skills add to the either/or range of the number 10 role in tandem with Mark Duffy (Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

No cheerleading here. If the Blades were among the big budget, big spending outfits of the Championship, this column would be stoking up the pressure and not cooling it.

Just as at places like Stoke City and Nottingham Forest where recent managerial changes have reflected high expectations.

The fact remains United are in the bottom half for expenditure and while ever that is the case I think most fans will fully support an effort like this, with all its little peaks and troughs.

It is, or should be, a free hit for them. A shot to nothing. So it’s important to keep playing with the sort of freedom and adventure that could spell another crazy afternoon at Carrow Road, where visitors have joined in goal fests and late dramas this season.

Overall, Norwich - while being free-scoring themselves - have conceded more goals (36) than any of the top nine clubs. They can be attacked - though United do that against any opposition.

There’s just one basic requirement beyond maintaining that approach. It’s performing to a consistent level, which they are.

Beyond that, the two January recruits are showing signs of adding to a proven mix. Kieran Dowell’s languid skills add to the either/or range of the number 10 role in tandem with Mark Duffy.

Gary Madine can win all or most thrown up to him and be effective with it given better delivery than late in the Swansea game.

The rest might be about finding those big moments of quality, as Wilder often stresses. But it’s also a question of mood on and off the pitch. Achieving something against the odds still has to be the biggest fuelling agent.