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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sheffield United vs QPR - Previews

Also: QPR Report - QPR vs Sheffield United: United's Last Visit to Loftus Road

Sheffield United Official Site Gaffer's preview
Boss Kevin Blackwell is eagerly anticipating his first league game in charge of the Blades when they travel to the capital to tackle big spending QPR.
Blackwell, though, is more concerned with how his players perform, rather than the money men from Loftus Road, although he knows the man his defence will have to stop if United are going to return home with three points:
"QPR have made big investments in January and they could be classed as the richest club in the world, but it's about what happens on the pitch come Saturday afternoon.
"I am confident we can put in a similar performance to the one we did against Middlesbrough and I am sure that will give us a real chance.
"We must stop Patrick Agyemang who is on a great run at the minute. To be a successful team you need clean sheets and they are even more crucial in tight games."
The Gaffer is also determined that the Blades achieve their first away win of the campaign using his preferred 4-4-2 formation, and insists they will attack from the off:
"It's an opportunity to get three points and I can have a big influence on that with regard to formation and tactics. Sometimes you have to change, depending on the opposition, but I am confident we can go to Loftus Road and get a victory.
"Despite that, we don't have the divine right to win because of our ability. There are no givens in football, or any sport, so you have to work hard and earn the right for success." Sheffield United

Sheffield United - QPR form guide
After their defeat at Bramall Lane in early January the R's have enjoyed a successful run, picking up nine points from a possible fifteen.
Luigi De Canio's side comfortably defeated Barnsley at Loftus Road, courtesy of goals from Patrick Agyemang and Rowan Vine.
Despite losing at Cardiff, QPR then defeated high-flying Bristol City 3-0 with Agyemang bagging a brace and Akos Buzsaky notching the other.
An away win at Southampton followed with the former Preston man adding another double to his ever growing goal tally. Incidentally, the Saints scored in the first and last minute of the game but the R's hung on.
Last time out they lost 4-2 at home to Burnley with former England international striker Andy Cole scoring a hat-trick. Former Blade, Ade Akinbiyi, was also on the scoresheet.
Agyemang is on a hot streak at the moment having scored seven goals in six games since opening his R's account on his debut against the Blades. Sheffield United

Sheffield United - Billy in fast lane
Billy Sharp knows the Blades will be in for a tough test against big spending QPR at Loftus Road on Saturday afternoon.
Sharp is confident though that United have the quality to come out on top against the R's, and an attacking approach is likely to be the order of the day:
"They are a strong, organised side who are dangerous at home, but they also concede a lot of goals, so we must get behind them and take our chances.
"We have lots of pace, experience and enthusiasm so there isn't any reason why we can't achieve things this season.
"The Gaffer wants us to be attack minded and it's all about playing the chosen system correctly - we have been working hard on it all week. We must exert pressure on the opposition instead of getting under the cosh ourselves."
On a lighter note, the lifelong Blade was happy enough to come out on top during a spot of team bonding earlier in the week:
"We went go-karting and I won, along with Beatts and Speedo, so although it was only a bit of fun it was still nice to be a winner.
"I think it was beneficial for everyone and we should continue to do things like that because it keeps the lads together." Sheffield United

New Blades boss Kevin Blackwell takes charge of Sheffield United for the first time in the Championship on Saturday afternoon.
Following hot on the heels of last weekend's goalless draw versus Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fifth round, Blackwell brings his new charges to Loftus Road for a mouth-watering mid-table clash.
The former Luton Town and Leeds United gaffer was recently handed the reins at Bramall Lane until the end of the season, following the Board's decision to part company with under-fire Manager Bryan Robson.
Speaking of his appointment, Blackwell, who was Blades assistant boss from 2000-2004, said: "I had some of my best times here. It helped build my reputation as a coach.
"It's a stable Club, something I've desperately missed since I left and the fans here are as passionate as can be.
"I have some great memories of working at this Club - it's very special to me."
Robson had overseen just 14 victories in his 39 match spell in charge since his summer appointment and with pressure firmly mounting from all quarters of the Blades supporters, the former Manchester United midfielder eventually left the Club last Thursday, turning down a 'Head of Football' role in the process.
Only goal difference currently separates the two Clubs in the table, but Rangers will be gunning for revenge this weekend, after the Blades played their 'get out of jail free card' when the two sides met at Bramall Lane last month.
The R's appeared to be on their way to maximum points when Patrick Agyemang opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time, but a Damion Stewart own goal and Lee Hendrie's first league goal of the campaign gave the Blades the initiative.
But the real drama was saved until the very end, as Akos Buzsaky's stunning goal-bound volley appeared to be handled by Matt Kilgallon.
Rangers' players appealed as one to referee Neil Miller, but the decision was not forthcoming, prompting Performance Manager Joe Dunbar to comment: "Kilgallon got away with it. He was laughing about it afterwards."
Whether Rangers' revenge mission bares fruit on Saturday afternoon remains to be seen, but with Blackwell at the helm, you sense United will provide a far tougher proposition for Luigi De Canio's men today, than Robson's charges did in late January.
Rangers will be minus the services of influential midfielder Akos Buzsaky, who is serving a one match suspension, but Jake Cole, Fitz Hall and Chris Barker have all resumed full training and could feature.
United's achievements against Middlesbrough last weekend appear to have come at a price, with Billy Sharp, Lee Martin and Derek Geary all rated as doubtful for the trip to West London. QPR

Goal-SHY striker Billy Sharp has been labelled 'Billy Blunt' by cruel Sheffield United fans after failing to score a league goal this season.
Sharp has struggled to make an impact following his £2million summer move from Scunthorpe.
He plundered 32 goals last season to fire the Iron to promotion but has netted just twice this term - in a 5-0 Carling Cup romp against Morecambe. Now Sharp has vowed to have the last laugh and prove fans wrong following the arrival of Kevin Blackwell as manager.
Sharp, who will line-up against QPR at Loftus Road today, said: "I know what the fans have nicknamed me but I will just take it on the chin because it's all part of football.
"In any case, the fans say it in a good humoured way and they have all been brilliant to me.
"They keep telling me when I bump into them to keep calm and carry on working hard and if the chances come my way I will end up getting the goals sooner rather than later.
"I always set myself a target of 20 goals per season. Obviously that's not going to happen this time and I'm disappointed about that, but I've not really had a run in the side. "Kevin Blackwell knows what type of player I am and he's already given me a lot of encouragement and that makes me feel good.
"I felt under pressure before that if I didn't score then I'd be out of the team. Hopefully I'll get a chance now to put a run together.
"I believe in myself, I know the gaffer believes in me and hopefully I can repay him with some goals. If I can get one then the floodgates will open. It's all about confidence."
One of the players he will be facing today, Damien Delaney almost blew his chance to join QPR - because he thought it was a wind-up. He said: "When I got the call I thought it was one of the lads from Hull playing a joke on me, having a laugh at my expense.
"I did not expect to be leaving Hull but this was too good an opportunity to turn down. This is a new chapter for me which I will relish
." Mirror

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