Sheffield United: Blades star heaps praise on 'unbelievable' teammate after promotion to Premier League
John Fleck has heaped praise on his ‘unbelievable’ Sheffield United teammate Oliver Norwood after the pair helped the Blades into the Premier League.
The duo formed a formidable partnership in the centre of midfield as United beat rivals Leeds to second place, and automatic promotion into the top-flight next season.
For Norwood it was remarkably a third promotion from the Championship in three seasons, after helping Brighton and Hove Albion and then Fulham reach the Premier League.
And Fleck, no stranger to silverware either after winning League One with United two years ago, said: “Ollie’s been unbelievable and helped us out massively. We had Lee Evans before but Ollie’s been there and done it, he’s another level up. He's done great.
“Him coming in probably changed my role a little bit because before, I had a relationship with Paul Coutts who was more about small passes. Ollie's more of a bigger passer so we needed to change our game, and it took a few games to maybe adjust but it worked in the end.
“The way he can pass a ball is unbelievable. You rarely get players with that ability at Championship level because they’re normally a league above. Even a ten-yard pass, when anyone else would just pass it, he ‘zings’ it with the front of his foot. His level of ability is incredible, really.”
Like many United fans, Fleck is surprised that the coming season will be the first taste of Premier League football for Norwood, who came through the ranks at Manchester United before spells at clubs including Huddersfield Town and Reading.
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“You watch Premier League games and feel that someone like Ollie, with his passing, would be perfect," Fleck added. “I don’t know the reasons why it hasn’t worked but to win promotion once from the Championship is brilliant.
“Twice is even better but to do it three times, in three seasons, is quite remarkable. If ever there's a league you want to get promoted from, it’s from the Championship to the Premier League and so massive credit to him for that.”
Proud Scot Fleck hopes to top off United’s promotion season with his first cap for his country, which could have come in the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Cyprus and Belgium had the games not clashed with Fleck’s wedding.
Steve Clarke, Norwood’s former manager at Reading, replaced Alex McLeish in charge of the Scottish national team and looks set to make Fleck a big part of his plans for the future.
"I've had a great year with Sheffield United and it's really exciting to be thinking in a few weeks I'll be playing in the Premier League,” Fleck added.
“It's always been an ambition of mine to get to this level and it's been a long road getting here.
"Hopefully I can cap off what I've achieved over the last 12 months by adding a Scotland cap to my collection once I'm back from honeymoon.”