Sheffield United: Fulham boss Marco Silva appears to make a play-off prediction

“See you next season,” Marco Silva muttered, as he slipped out of Bramall Lane’s media suite.

Saturday, 7th May 2022, 4:56 pm

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Some people claimed the Portuguese was simply being polite. But others, after witnessing his side get utterly filleted by Sheffield United, took it as a sign that Fulham’s title-winning manager believes the hosts are Premier League bound. Certainly, if they can replicate this performance throughout the Championship play-offs, it will take a damn good team to stop them reaching the top-flight.

Silva talks up Blades

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“They, and I admit this, deserved to get the win,” Silva said, after watching United guarantee their place in the end of term knockouts with an emphatic 4-0 win. “We, them and West Bromwich Albion, because we all came down last season, we were obviously the contenders to go straight back up again.

Others also showed they had the ability, including Nottingham Forest and Luton. Huddersfield too.

“It will be difficult for anyone, because so many things can impact upon the games. United, as we know, they started (the campaign) badly. But they have got better as it’s gone on. Much better. So we will see. Whoever does it, they will deserve it. Because it’s going to be tough to get through.”

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom on the touchline during the Sky Bet Championship match against Fulham: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

Paul Heckingbottom, Silva’s counterpart, remained predictably level-headed during his own post-match inquest. The 44-year-old, never one to use superlatives when more prosaic language will do, appreciates semi-final opponents Forest pose a huge threat to United’s hopes of promotion.

But Heckingbottom will still have been encouraged to hear Silva eulogise about his charges’ performance. Morgan Gibbs-White, Iliman Ndiaye, Sander Berge and Enda Stevens all scribbled their names into the scoresheet. But, as Silva correctly identified afterwards, United owed their victory to team work and organisation. A victory, it must be remembered, over the best squad in the division.

What makes United dangerous

Sander Berge of Sheffield United celebrates his goal against Fulham: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“In the first 10 minutes, I thought we were better,” Silva said. “But when they scored, they punished us. It wasn’t what we wanted or what we had prepared for.

“They are very dangerous on the counter-attack. And they always leave two very dynamic forwards (Gibbs-White and Ndiaye) in advanced positions at all times. I repeat, they deserved it. Now, we will see what happens because there are four very good clubs in there."

Fulham's manager Marco Silva: Tim Goode/PA Wire.