The Opposition View: Sheffield United

Last updated : 03 March 2011 By Jim Bonner

Blades Mad editor Paul Holland has kindly agreed to answer the questions I put to him ahead of Saturday's encounter at Fratton Park.

Sheffield United are usually one of the pre-season favourites for promotion. What has gone wrong?

In the summer the Blades were up amongst the favourites to be in the top six; especially after last season when the team was hampered by injuries which cost us dearly. I believe that if it hadn't been for those setbacks then we would have made the play-offs.

But this season has been totally different, under Kevin Blackwell we made 8 signings in the summer - all free transfers and despite playing a lot good football over the season; results just haven't come our way!

What do you think of the job Micky Adams is doing at Bramall Lane? Should the board stick with him if the Blades were to be relegated?

Due to different circumstances the Blades are on their fourth manager at the club this season, though John Carver was in temporarily in charge which has understandably unsettled the club.

If the club is relegated to League One when stability is important and vital that the club stick by Adams in the summer and give him the opportunity to bring in the players he requires to take us back to the Championship.

Greg Halford, Danny Webber and David Cotterill all played for Sheffield United in their careers. What did Blades fans make of them during their time at your club?

All three players spent time at Bramall Lane at different stages of their careers - of the three players Halford was the most promising, on loan during the 2008-09 season he (and James Beattie) ran the show as United made it to the play-off final, he headed home the winner in the semi-finals at the Lane to take us through to the final.

Webber spent a few seasons we the Blades, scoring on his debut in a 4-0 win at Leeds; he was a tricky customer to deal with for the opposition, though had the knack of holding onto the ball longer than he needed to and was quickly caught in possession.

He hit the post on the final day of the 2006/07 season against Wigan, had the ball rumbled the net then United would have stayed up!

Cotterill was in my opinion a good winger for the Wizards but he left the club after missing 'home'. During the 2008/09 campaign he scored a few goals, mostly from the penalty spot.

I would also mention Ritchie de Laet who spent time on loan at Bramall Lane earlier this season; he would have been a player who I would have liked to see longer at the club, but I believe that Sir Alex Ferguson wished to help out his son.

Michael Brown is another player on Pompey's books who used to play for your team. He can't play for us due to contract issues, so would you have him back?

At the moment we'd take on anyone who could save our season but I believe that his wages would cost us too much right now, though he was a player who never failed to inspire the team to victory.

Who are the main players in your team that Pompey fans should be wary of?

Bjorn Helge Riise, on loan from Fulham has showed promising signs of being a vital member of our team and poses a threat to any opposition.

What are the major weaknesses in your team?

During the course of the season the team has played more than 20 different combinations of defenders and this unsettling formation has seen a lot of goals conceded; this could be out Achilles heel in our attempts to avoid relegation.

Do you genuinely believe you can avoid relegation this season or will you be playing Steel City derbies in League One next year?

Potential Steel City Derbies against Sheffield Wednesday (and Rotherham United) as well as other local games against Chesterfield and Huddersfield Town seems mouth watering, but these are games I would rather us be playing in the Championship.

No team wishes to suffer relegation but that currently looks to be on the cards, I believe that we will win games but hate to face the fact that it won't be enough.

What sort of match are you expecting at Fratton Park?

Portsmouth has won their last five outings and has yet to concede in those games - obviously any bookies will favour a home win. I believe that United will give the Fratton Faithful a game, but we'll have to push our opposition hard if we are to come back to S2 with at least a point.

Predict the outcome of the game.

Despite our poor run of form I shall be brave and suggest that United shall come away with a point; 0-0.