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Sunday, April 03, 2011

QPR Report Preview Interview: The Sheffield United Perspective: Sheffield United On and Off the Pitch


- Throughout the day, updates, comments and perspectives re QPR and football in general are posted and discussed on the QPR Report Messageboard...Also Follow: QPR REPORT ON TWITTER

- Twenty-Nine Years Ago Today: QPR Reach the FA Cup Final For the First Time

- Three Years Ago: QPR's PR Firm Profiled...Rowan Vine Breaks His Leg...John Gregory Linked to QPR

- Kevin Gallen Debuted for His New Club

- Ten Years Ago: QPR in Administration and Further Press Stories

- See Also: The Various Efforts to Buy QPR

- Year Later (May 2002): QPR Exit Administration

- VIDEO: 1923 - QPR vs Sheffield United

QPR Report Q&A: The Sheffield United Perspective

This week, Vital Football Sheffield United's Ben Shepherd has very kindly provided his perspective of Sheffield United and QPR

Starting simply: How long have you supported Sheffield United?

I went to my first game just before my seventh birthday, and I've never looked back since. My passion doesn't necessarily come out in the obvious ways; I don't stand and shout, but even when we've been near the bottom or even languishing in mnd-table I've never not enjoyed a matchday.

How long have you been involved with your Website? How did you get to your site?

I've been doing it now since May 2008. United have one or two big forums elsewhere so it's not particularly big, but it's certainly grown. When I started we had around 60 members, and we now have close to 500.

How do you get on with the other Sheffield United fan sites: Are there any serious inter-board conflicts (as there certainly are between certain QPR boards!)?

Basically, we think those on the Blades Mad site are rather moronic, and often comment when things are getting emotional on ours we don't want to come across like they do; but there's no real rivalry.

What do Sheffield United fans think of Sheffield Wednesday? Is it rivalry? Is it hatred? Is it an equal two-way rivalry? (Any other rivals besides them?)

The "Wendys" as you often hear is a great rivalry. I personally really enjoy it. It's like a sibling rivalry to me. It's about getting one up on them, rather than an out and out hatred for me. Others might disagree, but I see it as a true footballing rivalry where it doesn't matter what's going on in the grand scheme of things, but come the week of a derby and the week after, work places are split, and even families, but at the end of the day, you'd still stick up for Sheffield football if need be. After all, we invented it.

- How do you feel about Sheffield Wednesday suffering in the Third Division?

For the times they were on top for so long, it's nice to be the best team in the city, it's just a shame when they've suffered so much we've not pulled away from them, and instead look like joining them. However, it's a sorry state of affairs if both sides are in the third division next season.

Are you happy with your manager and team and how things are? - Can you explain/do you understand how things got to this point? What did you think of Blackwell - Maybe at least in hindsight, a mistake not to keep him? (I remember we were linked to him a couple of years ago)

Somebody summed it up perfectly a week or so ago. "If we'd got Blackwell we wouldn't be in this mess, but I still enjoy it more now." He just sapped the life out of the club, there was no spirit, it was awful - but on the other hand, he got results and has one of the best records at the club in terms of win percentage.

What do you think of the current - and previous- Owners? WHY are they involved? WHO ARE THEY?! What do you expect? Could they realistically have done more to boost your chances?

Propaganda merchants, businessmen, ruthless. Very split opinions on the board. Kevin McCabe took over and pretty much saved the club, he put money in, we went up and is now gradually taking his money back. Our debts at the club are owed to Mr McCabe, not the bank which in a sense is a good position to be in (as long as he stays). He appointed Trevor Birch (ex-Chelsea, saw the arrival of Abramovich) as Chief Exec and Chris Steer as Chairman of the football club, but he's the puppeteer, he still makes the calls and pulls the strings, they're there to basically get the stick.

How do you think Sheffield Uited treats its fans? Appreciates them? Listens to them? Screws them?

We get positive PR pushed down our throat all the time, they patronise the fans no end. I know the official site has to be positive but there's limits, and they expect you to take it all in. As an example, this was the opening line of the match report when we lost to Sheffield Wednesday a couple of years ago. United may hold the city advantage in terms of league position and average attendance but Saturday's victory gave Wednesday bragging rights. Have you ever seen anything like that?

Who are you Dangermen/Most valued/most overrated/most underrated players?

The dangerman is hard to say. We're a team who just look to get the ball in the right areas and feed off scraps, so the quickest reactions I suppose. Daniel Bogdanovic is dangerous, but the return of Darius Henderson is a big thing (providing he stays on the pitch).

Who would you say was the greatest Sheffield United player that you yourself personally saw? (You can name more than one if it's that close!)

For me it's Dane Whitehouse. He epitomised everything about the Blades. He was Sheffield born and bred, and he lived for the club, turning down big offers elsewhere before his career was cut short by that (insert expletive) Gareth Ainsworth.

Prediction for season promotion/relegation places - And how would that compare with pre-season prediction? In your heart of hearts, what were you expecting pre-season for Sheffield United - I imagine a promotion challenge?

I expected comfortable midtable this season. Basically, consolidate and start to build again. Not really worked out though has it. I think we'll go down with Preston and Sc**thorpe, with QPR, Leeds (pains me to say that) and Cardiff going up. However, if Leeds finish in the play-offs I don't think they'll do it.

What is your view and the general Sheffield United view of QPR (If we even feature in your consciousness)?.
I imagine with Warnock and now Paddy Kenny you probably do have a view.

I like our Neil, so I want him to do well. My personal view of QPR is that they're a good old fashioned London club, and so I don't mind them going up at all. As for Kenny, I'm a big fan, and unlike the majority of the fans I understood why he left. The club did pay him when he was suspended, and did "stand by him" in that sense but I feel we sold him down the river. He got no public support from the club (see the PRimage previously).

What are your past Encounter Memories - Best Memory/Worst Memory of Past QPR- Encounters? Who is your favourite QPR Player over the years? (And your least favourite)? We of course have Tony Currie in common.. And Kenny, as noted above. And Leigertwood. And a number of others.

My favourite player is probably Kenny but that won't be a popular choice. I do like Shaun Derry though, he's a different player to when he was with United but a typical Warnock type. He'll run through a brick wall for you , and is one of those you love to have, but hate when he's on another team (see: Chris Morgan).

Regarding Neil Warnock: What did you think of his time at Sheffield United? What did you think of his departure? What do you think of him now?

It was inevitable I think he was going to leave when he did, but it's still a shame. With the team we had, I believe he'd have taken us straight back to the the Premier League, but McCabe had bigger ideas for his global empire. We bought Ferencvaros, Chengdu Blades and Central Coast Marriners, and the chairman wanted a global name to go with it. Didn't work.

Are you looking forward to playing QPR?

No, but we've nothing to lose.

SCORE PREDICTION for QPR-Sheffield United?

Either 4-0 QPR, or 1-0 Blades

Where, realistically, do you think Sheffield United will be in five years time?
(I imagine even if you do go down, you'll bounce bank within a year or two, and be at least challenging for Premiership)

The Summer's huge. If we stay up we'll be in a similar position to what we are now. If we go down, we can rebuild and hopefully be pushing the play-offs.

Do you have any advice for QPR fans, in the event that we do go up? (Spend more/spend less; keep the manager; change the manager, etc)

Attack. We were ten points clear of relegation and started playing one up front. Needless to say it didn't work. Wigan, Blackpool and others have got promoted and attacked. It's vital

Very many thanks to Vital Football Sheffield United's Ben Shepherd

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