Why Sheffield United fans have got THEIR Blades back again

Sheffield United midfielder Oliver Norwood believes Blades fans can finally begin to identify with their team again after a poor start to the season.

Saturday, 18th December 2021, 4:00 pm

Results and performances in this Championship campaign had not been up to the standard that supporters had been used to over the course of the last five years and it led to frustration in the stands.

Slow, passive play had become the hallmark of a United team who appeared to be lacking in the confidence shown in previous seasons – the last one in the Premier League excepted – and Norwood admits the team wasn’t doing enough to inspire fans who had been used to fast-paced, attacking, entertaining football at Bramall Lane.

The last two games, after Paul Heckingbottom had come in to replace Slavisa Jokanovic, have told a different story, with wins over Bristol City and Cardiff City United have rediscovered the type of form that had seen them promoted from the second tier and then perform superbly in their first season back in the top flight under Chris Wilder.

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Oliver Norwood, centre, believes SHeffield United fans can identify with their team again after a recent upturn in form

“I completely understand the frustration and it is up to us to get [supporters] off their seats,” said Norwood, ahead of Monday night’s match against Championship leaders Fulham at Craven Cottage. “They pay their money and they expect to be excited which is fine because of the success we had the previous seasons and that's come to be expected.

"Last season was a massive disappointment and maybe the start of this season was a bit of a hangover from that but I think the Sheffield United fans now can identify their team again and that's all they want.

"They want a team that works hard, leaves everything out there, gives 100% and everything after that is a bonus. I think they can identify their team again now.”

While Heckingbottom’s return to managing the side after taking charge in the second half of last season has given the team a lift, Norwood says the players knew themselves that they weren’t doing what had previously come naturally to them.

“We knew... it was a different way of playing, it was a different style,” he said. “We had a broken pre-season, we didn't get the way we wanted to play, we missed two or three weeks pre-season and maybe he didn’t get across how [Jokanovic] wanted us to play as much as he would have liked. But since Hecky's come in the fans have realised we have got our identity back.

"They can relate to us again and we are the team they want to see. We leave everything out there and that's what playing for Sheffield United means.”

And it’s not just in the stands where the smiles have returned, with Norwood revealing that the mood has lifted significantly around their training base at Shirecliffe, too.

“Results dictate that,” Norwood added. “If you had come in here last season I don't think there would have been many worse places to be.

"We'd not won a game in 20 or whatever it was and it was a grind, really tough. I think if you had a wander round you could see smiles on faces, people enjoy their football, people enjoying coming to work which is a massive thing.”