There were a few sub-plots to United’s memorable encounter at Norwich, going back to the Canaries’ win at the Lane last season when their late arrival brought admonishment from Chris Wilder and their time-wasting tactics brought a new song from Blades fans when we won at Carrow Road later in the season.
Interestingly, last weekend the local Norwich paper the Pink ‘Un described Wilder as “spiky” and “abrasive” who has a “customary scowl”.
Daniel Farke, meanwhile, is “smooth”. Blades fans might not recognise these portrayals; to us, Farke is the spiky one who stretches the rules, whereas Wilder – though he could hardly be described as smooth – is the honest, play it hard but fair type.
But things seem to be smoothing between the pair, despite a couple of spiky exchanges on the touchline.
There now seems to be a mutual appreciation stemming from the way their teams play; United the same as they always have done, Norwich transformed into a free-flowing team that has ditched its unsavoury face.
Farke’s post-match interview was also conciliatory, calling the 2-2 draw “a game between two high quality sides” and “high-quality Championship football between two attacking sides”.
Press and pundits were equally effusive in their praise: “A pulsating clash” – The Observer; “A match worthy of the occasion” – Sky Sports; “The best Championship game I have seen this season” – Ian Holloway; “The tempo and the intensity felt a notch or two higher than a standard Championship game” – Norwich Pink ‘Un.
There was indeed a ‘big fight’ feel to the match; Ali v Frazier, Leonard v Duran, Eubank v Benn, Froch v Groves.
Like these great rivalries, the competitiveness will endure, perhaps into the Premier League next season.