When something happens so often, it can perhaps no longer be considered a shock. After seven wins over higher league opposition in cup competitions in the last year alone, the Blades head to White Hart Lane tonight looking for their eighth major scalp – and probably their greatest of what has been an incredible run.
While major underdogs in one sense, the weight of history suggests United should have nothing to fear as they prepare to meet Tottenham Hotspur.
Here’s a look back over the brilliant cup upsets of Nigel Clough and his Blades.
January 4 2014 FA Cup Round 3 - Aston Villa 1 Sheffield United 2
Villa boss Paul Lambert had caused a stir beforehand by claiming the FA Cup was a distraction Premier League managers could do without. The distraction didn’t last very long as Ryan Flynn’s winner knocked Villa out at a time when United were struggling near the foot of the League One table. Jamie Murphy had sent the Blades into the lead before Nicklas Helenius looked to have at least earned a replay for the home side. However, Flynn struck with ten minutes remaining to set United off on what would be a series of shocks.
February 4 2014 FA Cup Round 4 replay - Fulham 0 Sheffield United 1 (AET)
United fought for a replay after drawing 1-1 with ten men - Michael Doyle sent off just after half time - at Bramall Lane against the Londoners. Hugo Rodallega cancelled out Chris Porter’s first half goal and it looked as though Fulham might go on to win it. But the Blades clung on to have another bite at the cherry and after an energy-sapping 120 minutes at Craven Cottage, Shaun Miller’s goal in injury time of extra time won it for the Blades, sparking memorable scenes amongst the away support in west London. It was one of the most boring games of football ever witnessed. No one cared!
February 16 2014 FA Cup Round 5 - Sheffield United 3 Nottingham Forest 1
Confidence was now so high at Bramall Lane that they felt United could take on and beat anyone, despite the fact that Billy Davies’ Nottingham Forest were on 16-match unbeaten run. The Reds took the lead through Jamie Paterson but two loan stars who would play a major role in United’s cup run, John Brayford and Conor Coady, combined to draw level as the Forest keeper Dorus de Vries fumbled the former’s cross and Coady knocked in. Then in the last minute cult hero Chris Porter scored what was thought to be the winner, then two minutes later made sure. While the game was being played, the draw was made and United were drawn with city rivals Wednesday, should the Owls beat Charlton after their game was postponed the day before. Wednesday were awful in their game and the chance of a big Steel City derby was lost.
March 9 2014 FA Cup quarter finals - Sheffield United 2 Charlton 0
A sure thing, many fans thought and so it proved to be. Wednesday’s conquerors were swept aside as Flynn and Brayford hit two goals in three minutes shortly after the hour mark and Coady had two goals ruled out for offside at a sold-out Bramall Lane to book a place in the semi-final of the FA Cup, where they would eventually see the end of the adventure as Hull City beat them 5-3 in a stunning tie at Wembley.
August 27 2014 Capital One Cup Round 2 - West Ham 1 Sheffield United 1 (Blades win 5-4 on penalties)
United’s knock out performances aren’t confined to the FA Cup as earlier this season Clough’s men made their mark on the League Cup too. After going behind to Diafra Sakho’s header, Winston Reid’s own goal helped the Blades claw their way back in. Neither team could force a winner in normal or extra time and so it went to spot kicks where Mark Howard saved from Enner Valencia and Michael Doyle converted the crucial penalty before doing a cockney walk into the far corner to the travelling Blades fans.
December 16 2014 - Capital One Cup quarter finals - Sheffield United 1 Southampton 0
The Saints had been on a poor run of form but with United hardly pulling up any trees either, this was a tie expected to go the way of the Premier League club. However, the old cup spirit that has engulfed S2 in the past year came to the fore again as Marc McNulty’s goal won it for United on a night when Saints boss and Dutch legend Ronald Koeman threw his toys out of the pram and refused to shake hands with the United bench.
January 4 2015 - FA Cup Round 3 - QPR 0 Sheffield United 3
And so a year to the day after beating Aston Villa, another Premier League club were given the heave-ho in the third round of the FA Cup. McNulty again put Clough’s men into the lead and after half time Jamal Campbell-Ryce doubled the advantage. Harry Redknapp’s side didn’t look up for it at all and Campbell-Ryce completed the scoring in injury time to secure yet another famous win for the Blades.