Sheffield United: Oliver Norwood considers the big picture, including the importance of support

Ultimately, it will boil down to points, performances and the ability to cope with pressure.

Thursday, 18th April 2019, 7:46 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th April 2019, 10:19 pm
Oliver Norwood is talking up Sheffield United's top-flight credentials: James Wilson/Sportimage

But, ahead of a critical weekend in the Championship's calendar, Oliver Norwood has admitted supporters can also influence who wins the race for Premier League football.

Norwood, the Sheffield United midfielder, drew on his experiences with Brighton and Hove Albion and Fulham to illustrate how backing from the terraces can help swing games during the closing stages of the campaign. After being promoted with both those clubs, the Northern Ireland international hopes his words will resonate on the terraces at Bramall Lane ahead of Nottingham Forest's visit tomorrow.

"We've had a good season but we hope to turn it into a brilliant one," Norwood said. "We are giving everything and doing our best but we're also human beings and we're going to make mistakes. Things are not always going to go our way and, when they don't, we need people to get right behind us."

Last weekend's draw with Millwall, coupled with Leeds' win over Sheffield Wednesday, saw United slip three points behind Marcelo Bielsa's second-placed side with four fixtures remaining.

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Given that leaders Norwich City are a further four in front, the gap between Chris Wilder's charges and the title appears insurmountable. However, despite the disappointment of conceding a last minute equaliser against opponents battling relegation, Norwood insists United are still genuine contenders for the runners-up spot. Providing the team and its followers work in tandem.

"This is a group that does care," he said. "Last Saturday night was horrible. My wife was not too happy, as we did not speak. We want success as much as the fans want success. It is not a case of, ‘Oh well, there is always next year’. There is not always a next year, anything can happen.

“Football can be taken away from you quickly. As a group, we are working so hard in the week to try and get over the line."

"The fans get anxious and that transferred a little bit on to the pitch last Saturday," Norwood continued. "We understand that. They are willing us to do well. And we want to do well ourselves.

“It is important to have that (emotional involvement). From my point of view - and I am not digging the fans out here in anyway, they have been fantastic all season - I do ask them to stick with us.

“If it was a boxing match, there is someone punching back at you. Teams do not just roll over and think, ‘Sheffield United are better than us’.

"Look at Millwall last Saturday. They were playing for their lives. If they go down, I would be very surprised if there is not a cut in the players’ contracts.

“That is how football is."

Although Norwood concedes disappointment is inevitable if United find themselves in the play-offs, he reminded that would still represent a remarkable achievement for a team which was competing in League One two years ago.

"I think we all know the answer had we been asked at the start of the season, ‘Would you take being three points behind second with four games to go?’ Every single person would have said ‘yes’. We have to be realistic at times. I am not saying we are accepting the play-offs. We are not.

"These last four games, you will see a team that is trying everything to get up there. If it is not to be, we go again in the play-offs."