The "boring" script Sheffield United matchwinner is sticking to despite confidence in promotion push

Before he answers the latest question about Sheffield United’s hopes of qualifying for the Championship play-offs, Ollie Norwood begins with a confession.

Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 4:00 pm

“It’s boring,” he admits. “I know it is. It’s boring for the fans to hear, and for people to listen to. But for us, in the dressing room, it’s one game at a time.

“We’ve got six games to go and so a lot of football is still to be played. We’re quietly confident but we won’t get carried away. We’ll take it one game at a time, and see where we can take it.”

The mantra is one repeated by every member of Paul Heckingbottom’s squad whenever they are put up to face the assembled media, and not by coincidence. So many of this current group are veterans of United’s last promotion from this division, and remember vividly how the race for the Premier League with rivals Leeds United took so many twists and turns before being settled in their favour right at the death.

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This time is different, of course. Rather than a two-way battle for one spot, United are one of as many as eight teams battling for four; with the consistency of Luton and Nottingham Forest’s impressive form giving the impression that the play-off race may be more like six teams battling for the final two places in the end-of-season shootout.

“At home, it’s difficult for teams,” Norwood said, when asked about four of the Blades’ remaining six matches being held at Bramall Lane.

“We’ve made it a real good hunting ground. We get after teams and play on the front foot, which we need to do more often away from home.

Sheffield United's Oliver Norwood (left) hugs goalkeeper Wes Foderingham after victory over QPR: Isaac Parkin/PA Wire.

“But if we keep winning at home, we’ll be in with a shout of getting in the play-offs. The last time we lost at home was October, and we know home form is going to be vital.”

At their best, as boss Heckingbottom frequently reminds his sides behind the scenes and away from prying eyes and ears, few teams in this division can live with the Blades.

But their patchy away form of late has contrasted with their superb results at home and with clashes against the current top two in the division, plus QPR away, still to come, the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Forest will be confident themselves of leapfrogging United come the end of the season.

“Everybody understands it's not just about the 11 that start the game or the three that come into it,” Norwood, speaking after scoring the winner against QPR on Tuesday night, added.

“It's about all 20 of us and at times we haven't had our senior players available. We're getting a few back, but Sharpy [Billy Sharp] is missing at the minute so I thought Oli [McBurnie] was brilliant [against QPR].

“He led the line and got us up the pitch. Morgan [Gibbs-White] has been fantastic since he came in the door and behind that you've got Jebbo [Daniel Jebbison] and Iliman [Ndiaye].

“We're getting players back now and it's going to be vital come the end of the season, to have as many players available as possible.

“We’ll look forward to Saturday and another huge game here. Hopefully we can take another step forward.”