This week we welcome Ian Rands, the author of Sheffield United blog ‘A United View On Football’ for a look ahead to this weekend’s Yorkshire derby.

Ryan – It’s a massive Yorkshire derby with a lot at stake for both teams at each end of the table. Are you looking forward to Saturday’s game at Bramall Lane?

Ian – I am looking forward to the occasion and atmosphere, but not the match. There have been some fabulous matches against Leeds at Bramall Lane, some remembered more fondly than others. From my perspective the two late goals in the League Cup in 2002/03 and the FA Cup win that season spring to mind, as well as the 2 – 2 draw during our joint promotion season in 1989/90.

For your fans I am sure that the Championship sealing victory with Brian Gayle’s OG in 1992 is the most memorable moment. Based on recent form and little sign of things vastly improving for the Blades, I think Saturday might fall into the latter category as one you will enjoy.

Taking a more positive view, the win against Forest came from a pretty average performance, after we had gifted them the lead. What got us the win was the battling commitment of the players and a vociferous backing from the fans creating a great atmosphere, something sadly lacking on both counts for much of this season. Given the opponents, I expect more of the same Saturday.

Ryan – We last met in September, when Leeds were victorious 1-0. Has much changed for the blades since then?

Ian – Well we are two managers on, if you count John Carver, and a number of new players have  passed through the doors since. On the pitch, things have got gradually worse, we are a team without an identity, something admitted by fans’ favourite (but seemingly not a manager’s favourite) Daniel Bogdanovic in a recent interview. This is a result of two seasons of relying on loan players to prop up the squad and four managers taking charge of the club this season.  We have no defined style of play, formation or ideal starting eleven.

Lacking creativity in midfield means goals are hard to come by and with a defence that seems prone to at least one catastrophic error per match we are always likely to concede. Having said that, I cannot say I have been overly impressed with many sides that have come to Bramall Lane this season. We have thrown away a point or more in many matches by conceding the odd goal, as we did at Elland Road earlier this season. Given that, most sides outside the top 2/3 have been much of a muchness, it will be interesting to see how Leeds compare.

Ryan – Shane Lowry, Micky Doyle and Neil Collins were all part of our promotion winning squad last year, how have they been so far?

Ian – Probably the pick of the three is Lowry, although that isn’t saying a great deal. Like most defenders at Bramall Lane, Lowry has not been helped by playing as part of an ever changing back four. However, on performances to date, you would say he has been more consistent than his supposedly senior centre back partner. He looks a reasonably competent defender and comfortable at Championship level, but his performances have been disrupted by injury and a suspension picked up for a sending off at Scunthorpe when Collins left him in a desperate situation.

Collins was brought in as the supposedly experienced and commanding cente back we needed in the long term absence of defensive rock and club captain Chris Morgan. Unfortunately, he has looked anything but and a significant number of fans consider his permanent signing to be one of the main criticisms that can be levelled at Micky Adams. Even moreso when his arrival caused our best defender Kyle Bartley to request a return to Arsenal and a subsequent loan to Rangers where he thought he would get more opportunities to make the first eleven.

Collins is cumbersome, frequently caught out of position and has cost us several goals since his arrival. He has quickly rivalled Nyron Nosworthy as the subject of supporters’ ire. After making little impression on a  previous loan spell some 5 years ago, his signing was greeted with muted enthusiasm this time and now we have to put up with him for a further couple of years.

Doyle looked okay in early games, showing a willingness to push on and and have a shot on goal. However, we have quickly established that he is much the same as we already have. He offers little different from players like Nick Montgomery and Stephen Quinn and for that reason we have a workmanlike, but limited midfield. It is difficult to see what the two permanent signings will offer us in either League One or the Championship next season.

Ryan – Who else should we be looking out for in your team on Saturday?

Ian – It’s difficult to pick players out in such a struggling team. Ched Evans was looking more of a threat until illness kept him out of the team. Quite why he is still on the bench is the subject of much contention, the strongest rumour being that further starting appearances will trigger further transfer payments.

The other player is the aforementioned Bogdanovic, who displays a great ability to hold the ball up, is skillful when on the ball and has scored and created chances for teammates when he has played. However, it is quite clear that he isn’t the type of player Adams and Cork want to start. A sad state of affairs in my opinion.

Ryan – What have you made of Micky Adams since he took over from Gary Speed?

Ian – Hard to say. He has clearly been dealt a difficult hand, inheriting a poor squad, although on paper it is one that should be gaining better results. With the club restructuring financially after overstretching in an attempt at a quick Premier League return, he has had little opportunity to change the squad. However the two permanent signings he has made;  Doyle and Collins have been disappointing and loans have made little impact.

As a Blades fan himself, the run of results since taking over clearly hurts Micky, but that seems to be expressed in a depressed resignation at the situation, rather than a more vocal anger and frustration. Rumours have abounded that he has tried to resign and that the arrival of Dave Bassett was a persuasion tactic to keep him. Who knows?

I think we should stick with him, even if we go down. More change cannot be good for the club. We are paying the price for a ridiculous decision to part with Blackwell after 3 games (after the Play Off Final or in the Summer maybe, but 3 games in?) and the inability to keep the man groomed as his long term replacement – Speed.

The one bright spot is the Academy, where we are one up on Villa after the away leg of the FA Youth Cup Semi Final and some of these players may end up getting their chance sooner rather than later. You cannot help but feel Academy Director (and former Blades/Whites player) John Pemberton has a big role to play in United’s immediate future and that might include being Adams’ successor.

Ryan – The Championship 2010/11: 3 up, 3 down?

Ian – Up:

QPR (by far the best side I have seen this season)
Norwich (in form at the moment)
Swansea (the play offs are a lottery, I’ll go with the Swans but wouldn’t put it past Burnley to come through late on)



PNE (despite beating Scunthorpe I cannot see them escaping)
Scunthorpe (Panicked in changing their manager, the disruption wont help)
Blades (I still cling to the hope it is not us, but Palace’s home form is good. Ideally it would be Boro that go down for me)

Ryan – If you could sign one current Leeds player for Sheff. United who would it be?

Ian – Previously it would have been Snodgrass – a player who we were linked with a couple of years ago. He has developed well and looked impressive when I say him play for Scotland against Northern Ireland.  But given our failings in the middle of the field it would have to be Howson. Clearly a talented young player and English, that usually means Harry Redknapp will be sniffing round him soon.

Ryan – Finally, what’s your prediction for the game? I’m going for another 1-0 Leeds win!

Ian – 2-1. Heart says Blades, head says Leeds