Sheffield United: Oliver Norwood describes The Blades as ‘special’ ahead of Middlesbrough test
Promotion-specialist Oliver Norwood has outlined what Sheffield United must do in order to ensure a "special" group of players fulfils its potential by reaching the Premier League.
Chris Wilder's squad enters tomorrow's game against Middlesbrough in third, three points behind second-placed Leeds who face Swansea City at Elland Road.
Norwood, who has won promotion in each of the last two seasons with both Brighton and Hove Albion and Fulham, is convinced his team mates have what it takes to help him complete a remarkable hat-trick.
"It's special to be a part of this group," he said. "It really is. The fans have bought into what we are doing and the players really have too. There's a genuine feeling, and it's confidence not arrogance, that this is capable of being our year.
"Really, there's no secret, it's all about consistency. If you're in the mix, then it means you're a good side. The sides who are most consistent end up in the top six and the sides who are even more consistent end up in the top two."
The visit of fellow high-flyers Middlesbrough is the latest in a series of games which pits United against some of the leading names in the division, with West Bromwich Albion, Leeds and Bristol City all on their agenda before the end of next month. The match also marks United's return to action following last week's draw with Aston Villa, which saw them relinquish a three goal advantage during the closing stages.
Dismissing suggestions that late collapse could be attributed to pressure, Norwood said: "If you can't enjoy playing at the top end of the Championship then, really, you're in the wrong job. Nobody wants to be thinking 'there's always next year' when it comes to the end of March."
Middlesbrough, who prepared for the fixture in fifth, have a wealth of talent at their disposal with John Obi Mikel and Norwood's fellow Northern Ireland international George Saville expected to feature in Tony Pulis' midfield. "They're a good side, we know that, but then again so are we," Norwood said. "You are where you are because of where you deserve to be."
"It's a cat and mouse because everyone knows how people go about it by now," Norwood added. "Obviously I know George and he knows me but he might be asked to do a different job there than with Northern Ireland, the same as I am. And, in any case, it's not about individuals, it's about what we do as a team."