Why Brighton boss Graham Potter is expecting a spirited display from relegated Sheffield United this weekend
Graham Potter, the Brighton and Hove Albion manager, says he is expecting “a spirited performance” from Sheffield United on Saturday evening, despite the Blades being relegated from the Premier League last weekend.
The Blades’ two-year stay in the top flight officially came to an end last weekend, although it had seemed inevitable for some weeks and months as they struggled to replicate their stunning last season, when they finished ninth after threatening to qualify for Europe until the coronavirus pandemic derailed their progress.
Playing games behind closed doors has affected the Blades more than any other Premier League club, but Potter admits he does not see a team that has downed tools when he looks at United.
“They haven’t got that pressure. When you look at them play, they’re still fighting and acting in a way that is a Premier League team,” he said.
“I am sure they will want to finish off as well as they can. All the players are playing for their futures, the coaching staff are doing the same.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for them, as a team and a club.”
Saturday’s game will again be played behind closed doors, with the possibility of 10,000 fans being allowed into Bramall Lane for the last game of this season coming far too late to have any effect on the Blades’ survival hopes.
“I think that’s part of it,” admitted Potter, when asked if the lack of crowds had had an impact on United’s season.
“The way they play and at Bramall Lane… it’s a completely different animal with a crowd and without one.
“They get the ball in the box and that gets the crowd going. They have had some injuries to key players and then there are the margins in the Premier League.
“They have been on the losing side by the odd goal a lot, so maybe this time last year it was going their way, but that just shows how football can be sometimes.
“As I said earlier, they are fighting, their fate has been sealed but that doesn’t mean they can’t make the most out of the Premier League games they have got.
“As individuals they will want to make a case to remain in the Premier League, or they could be a part of things going forward there.
“I expect a spirited performance, a hard game, a tough match.”
Potter appeared at his press conference ahead of the trip to Bramall Lane with heavy bruising below his left eye and a significant gash on his cheek.
With reporters ready to hear details of a daring deed or possible training ground incident, the 45-year-old bashfully explained that the cause was far more mundane.
"I would love to be able to tell you that there's a heroic, chivalrous story here that I can make myself look really good but unfortunately I just missed my footing walking home on some steps and then went crashing into a metal railing," he said.
"And I have got a bit of whiplash on my back.
"Thankfully it's only hit my cheek - it could have been worse!
When it was suggested his modelling days may now be over, he replied: "They were over a long, long time ago - if ever they started!"