Sheffield Wednesday more than capable of doing Sheffield United a favour at Leeds United this weekend – Alan Biggs’ Blades Column
Trust me, this is a Blades column. For all the banter suggesting those of a blue-and-white persuasion might actually prefer Leeds to win their Yorkshire derby at Elland Road on Saturday, here’s a slight reality check.
Besides, I’m of the firm belief that Sheffield United in the Premier League increases Sheffield Wednesday’s chances of joining them with promotion next season. Three successive nil-nils in the steel city scrap screams of suction and quicksand and enormous reserves of nervous energy wasted.
Which is one reason why this United column has its primary focus on Wednesday!
Another is that it’s a pretty unusual state of affairs to have virtually every Blade rooting for the Owls this weekend.
And maybe a few Wednesdayites entertaining the mischievous, mostly tongue-in-cheek hope that their team loses.
Considering also that this has had to be penned BEFORE United’s midweek trip to Birmingham, I can see no other place to start than Steve Bruce’s side at Elland Road. Even though the Blades, and only the Blades, will take the credit for how this epic season ends.
First, Chris Wilder’s men have business of their own to take care of in Millwall’s visit to Bramall Lane on Saturday.
But the teatime Yorkshire derby 40 miles up the M1 will have an equally huge bearing on United’s quest for automatic promotion.
It will start around the time Wilder makes his customary appearance in the Bramall Lane media suite where his attention has often flickered in the past to the TV in the corner of the room showing the late live game.
I’m wondering if he’ll be in sharpish ahead of the 5.30 kick-off and not only to avoid the distraction.
All Blades’ eyes, not least those of their dyed-in-the-wool supporter-manager, will have an interest in whether Wednesday can do them a favour against second-place rivals Leeds.
So can they? Yes, I believe they can. And not simply because Bruce’s team still have a glimmer of hope for the play-offs.
This derby would be highly-charged in any circumstances.
Wednesday HAVE to win, not hope for a draw. That’s another reason.
But it’s their compactness, in being hard to beat throughout Bruce’s reign so far, that persuades me they will ensure a close-fought game.
Plus having potential match-winning quality in their ranks.
Leeds have stuttered at times, winning but not doing so convincingly.
For all their resilience in plucking vital late goals, Marcelo Bielsa’s side are not immune to the pressures of an expectant Elland Road.
Wednesday have a decent record up there, too. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if, in being free of the burden weighing on Leeds, they took a point - or three.
But, of course, it’s what United do that is most important.
I’m writing blind to events at Birmingham but, in my opinion, this team won’t waver.
And, going back to where we started, it can work to the advantage of the whole city to have at least one of its teams restored to the Premier League.