1 minute: And away we go….Blades bid to return after a year away from the Premier League, and for Nottingham Forest it’s as long as 1999.
There’s something about these playoff games, where every move has a pricetag attached to it, and the TV commentators rattle with portents of what it all might mean. It’s an existential crisis played out on a football pitch. This means more? In this case it very probably does.
At a sunny Bramall Lane, both Paul Heckingbottom and Steve Cooper, the two managers, have been talking.
SC: [On Keinan Davis]: “With him being on the bench it means he can contribute. If we need the boys from the bench we know we have options. We want to win, I go into every challenge wanting to win. We know it’s a bit different. It’s a different context, and of course we want to win. “
PH: “We’ve shown a great character to come through. This week’s been very similar to last with no midweek games, and it’s allowed us to prepare.”
Our resident Blade remembers this fixture very fondly indeed.
Barry Glendenning previewed this meeting of the playoff hopeless.
Sheffield United are unchanged from the team that walloped Fulham 4-0 on the final day of the regular season, while Steve Cooper has almost completely shuffled his pack from the match with Hull. Steve Cook returns to the team, as does Jack Colback comes at left wing-back, with Djed Spence on the right. Ryan Yates will partner James Garner in the center of midfield. Keinan Davis is named on the bench, the hope is he will be it for Wembley.
Sheffield Utd: Foderingham, Basham, Egan, Robinson, Osborn, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, Berge, Gibbs-White, Ndiaye. Subs: A Davies, B Davies, Baldock, Hourihane, Osula, Norrington-Davies, Jebbison.
Nottingham Forest: Samba, Worrall, Cook, McKenna, Spence, Yates, Garner, Colback, Zinckernagel, Surridge, Johnson. Subs: Horvath, Fieueiredo, Davis, Laryea, Mighten, Cafu, Lolley.
Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, Arthur Seaton, Sean Bean, Deep Purple sticksman Ian Paice, Joe Root, DH Lawrence, just a few names who will be watching on in this playoff game between two clubs who bloody hate the playoffs. Forest have never won a playoff tie, while Blades have played in eight playoff campaigns and been successful in none of them. Forest finished fourth after 46 games of the regular season while Blades finished fifth. The sense was that Forest, under Steve Cooper, left their revival too late after changing their manager in September, but the same is also true of Paul Heckingbottom, who replaced Slavisa Jokanovic as late as November at Bramall Lane. To get to Wembley and the £170m game, they have to get their teams through these 180 minutes over two legs. This is massive.
Join me, kick-off is at 3pm UK time.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism