Martin Smith: When it comes to Sheffield and Manchester only one side currently deserves the name United

There’s a tale of two Uniteds unfolding in the Premier League.

Monday, 4th November 2019, 4:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 10:25 am

One a fallen giant looking for a new identity and culture after years of decline, loss of confidence and direction.

The other is Sheffield United.

Who thought anyone would be writing those words in the same decade that saw Manchester United clinch their fourth Premier League title in five years and Sheffield United finish mid-table in League One?

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Chris Wilder has shown Ole Gunnar Solskjaer how it is done in terms of tactical organisation

United’s namesakes across the Pennines are struggling to find consistency and purpose while the Blades have both in abundance.

They meet in the next game at Bramall Lane on November 24 in what promises to be a significant test for both.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is battling to give his side the kind of tactical framework that will allow his players to express themselves.

Which is exactly what Chris Wilder has done at Sheffield United but on a tenth of the budget.

The Blades could be six points ahead of the other United by the time the two clash after the international break, a Sheffield visit to Tottenham notwithstanding.

But wherever the two sides are in the table on that day only one of them has so far this season showed the organisation, desire and unity of purpose to be called united.

Another difficult away day beckons for the other.


Was Wales coach Warren Gatland right when he said that England had ‘played their final’ against New Zealand in the semi-final of the Rugby Union World Cup?

On the face of it yes.

But all teams have their weaknesses exposed in defeat.

The fact that South Africa did to England in the final what England did to the All Blacks in the semi-final doesn’t necessarily mean that England weren’t mentally, tactically or physically prepared for the final.

They were just out-played, out-mauled and out-thought.

It’s easy for people to say now that England peaked too soon and results show they obviously did.

But they were beaten the final by a team that had the balls, brains and brawn to expose their flaws.

Congratulations to the Springboks and their captain Siya Kolisi, they deserved their win.


You’d hope that someone at Buckingham Palace is preparing an envelope with Lewis Hamilton’s name on it.

The six-times world motor racing champion is one of our greatest-ever sports stars.

Sir Lewis Hamilton is surely in the post.