‘Names mean nothing to us’ – Sheffield United's Oliver Norwood reveals mindset that has driven Blades' rise to top of Championship

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Pirlo. Ronaldo. Kroos. van der Vaart. Robben. Bale.

The names read like a shortlist for a Ballon d'Or of a bygone era and, in their prime, would attract eye-watering sums which make the reported £2m Sheffield United will pay for Oliver Norwood in January look like pocket money.

For the Blades midfielder, though, remembering the players he has faced on international duty with Northern Ireland only reinforces the message from Chris Wilder that is driving United's promotion push this season.

Names mean nothing.

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"It's 11 versus 11 out there and I've played some of the best on the international stage, so a player's reputation or name doesn't matter to me," the former Fulham and Brighton man said.

Oliver Norwood of Sheffield United

Oliver Norwood of Sheffield United

"At the end of the day it's a Championship match, us against them. And that's the mentality we have.

"The manager thinks like that too, but we see it as wanting to prove ourselves against whoever we come up against. We want to be the better player than our opponent, whoever he may be."

The most recent case in point was United's 1-1 draw against a Stoke side containing tens of millions of pounds worth of talent and a former Barcelona player on the bench, a game in which the Blades looked destined to claim a fully deserved three points until Joe Allen, the former Liverpool man with 46 international caps to his name, struck a late equaliser.

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"Against Stoke, 11 of our players were better than their 11 and it was disappointing not to win the game because it would have been a really good three points," Norwood added.

For his part, the Burnley-born Norwood has over 50 caps for Northern Ireland and has pitted his wits against the likes of Italy, Holland, Portugal and Germany in recent years.

That international quality was evident on Saturday against Wigan when he was instrumental in two goals in United's 4-2 win, one outrageous outside-of-the-boot pass for Billy Sharp's hat-trick goal a particular highlight.

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Wilder, indeed, claimed it was the 'pass of the season' in his post-match press conference after the game and there can be little doubt of the impact that Norwood has had on United since he was prised from Brighton in the summer transfer window, for a fee that now looks a real steal.

"The delivery from Ollie, from the moment he came into the football club, has been excellent and it always look like we can score from his crosses in," Wilder said.

"He's a talented boy and he's done great for us. But, like everyone else here, that has got to carry on."