The Blades can draw level on points with the Baggies with victory, which would give them another big psychological boost in their bid to gate-crash the top six despite their poor early-season form.
But it won’t be easy, against a side who beat the Blades 4-0 last time out at the Hawthorns and have conceded the joint-lowest number of goals in the Championship this season.
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“We were expecting a tough, difficult game anyway but everyone will be out to impress the new manager,” the Blades boss said ahead of kick-off.
“We’re not sure what changes he [Bruce] will make but he’ll want to put his own identity on the game. We want to look after ourselves, we’ll prep as normal and see what is announced before kick-off. But we’ll focus on ourselves.”
The state of play at West Brom
Despite starting the season in good form, and looking good value for an instant return to the Premier League, West Brom’s form has dipped of late and they travel to Bramall Lane with only three wins in their last 14 matches in all competitions.
That led to the sacking of West Brom’s former Barnsley boss Valérien Ismaël last week, with Bruce almost immediately installed as his successor.
The former Blades boss has managed against his old side 14 times since leaving in the late 1990s, and come out on the winning side 10 times. He has only tasted defeat twice against United as a manager.
How will it go?
It could be a clash of two styles at Bramall Lane. United like to play football, as we know, but are also capable of mixing it when they need to – and they may need to against West Brom, a side built in their previous manager’s image and one that Bruce is unlikely to tinker with too much.
The former Newcastle and Wednesday boss has a reputation for, let’s say, pragmatic football, and United’s games against both those sides under Bruce’s charge have been difficult watches.
But can he afford to do that in his first game, against a side lower than his own in the table and with their grasp on the play-offs seemingly slipping by the game?
United will want to impose themselves on the game early and set the tone. If they do, on recent form it could be a difficult evening for West Brom. But if the home side start slowly, and allow West Brom to get a foothold in the game, the tables could turn and it could become a tough watch.
My Sheffield United team to face West Brom
Foderingham, Bogle, Basham, Egan, B. Davies, Norrington-Davies, Norwood, Fleck, Ndiaye, Sharp, McBurnie. Subs: A. Davies, Baldock, Goode, Berge, Hourihane, McGoldrick, Jebbison.
Sheffield United 1 West Brom 0.