Sheffield United: As The Blades gear-up for a huge showdown at Leeds, their skipper makes a remarkable revelation about a recent opponent
It was an hour into Tuesday's tussle with Brentford at Bramall Lane when Billy Sharp discovered how Sheffield United's commitment to attacking football can unsettle opposition teams.
One goal up but down to 10 men with 30 minutes remaining, Chris Wilder's side appeared destined to relinquish the lead until their manager had a brainwave.
Watching the drama unfold from the touchline, as his players were pushed deeper and deeper back into their own half, the 51-year-old's obvious course of action would have been to introduce a defender. Instead it was Sharp, United's captain and leading goalscorer, who was summoned from the bench.
"I heard their captain Romaine Sawyers say, ‘Wow, they are showing us no respect whatsoever’. He felt it was disrespectful to bring on a striker when we were down to ten men but psychologically it hurt them straight away," Sharp revealed last night. "When Gaz (Gary Madine) got sent-off, I thought I wasn't going to get on, that we'd try and hold on by soaking up the pressure. But something just clicked in the gaffer's head and it proved to be a great decision. It got us up the pitch a lot."
United actually went on to double their advantage during the closing stages, securing a victory Sharp later described as their "biggest of the season" given the difficult circumstances. The centre-forward, whose fellow substitute David McGoldrick scored the decisive goal following Oliver Norwood's first-half penalty, explained Wilder's squad will adopt a similarly fearless approach when they travel to Leeds tomorrow for a match between the Championship's second and third placed teams.
"What we did then sets this weekend up nicely," Sharp said. "Being brave, bravery like that, makes a huge difference.
"In fact it can be the difference."
United, two points behind their latest opponents in the table, will climb back into an automatic promotion spot if they prevail at Elland Road. Although Madine is unavailable through suspension, Wilder still has an array of attacking options at his disposal with McGoldrick, Scott Hogan and Conor Washington all vying for selection alongside Sharp.
"There's plenty here, some really good options for the gaffer to choose from," he said. "Scott and Didsy have done brilliant and Conor, whose been really unlucky not to be involved much lately, is a real quality player too.
"What we've shown is, whoever goes out there, they'll be ready to put their body on the line."