Blades fans column: The cups bring out the best in Sheffield United

Florent Cuvelier

Florent Cuvelier

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Nigel Clough’s cup record at Sheffield United is rather remarkable.

In all three competitions he has won 12, drawn 3 (one of which was won on penalties) and lost 2.

If they were league games it would add up to 39 points from 17 matches - championship-winning form. Seven of the wins were away from home.

There have been some memorable games along the way: holding Fulham with ten men before winning the replay late in extra time in a game that was awful to most but unputdownable for us.

Beating Aston Villa away, Forest and Charlton at home, then our first good performance at Wembley since 1936.

The reason for such a spectacular record is difficult to pin down.

Perhaps the players are more relaxed in the cup than in the league, as in many of the ties the expectation levels were tiny, whilst defeat in some of the others would not have been the end of the world.

League matches, on the other hand, seem to produce the pressure of high expectation, that we must get promoted. Cup wins are viewed as a bonus, a bit of fun, albeit serious fun.

Cloughie now has the opportunity to test his cup specialists against two Premier League opponents in contrasting conditions. Bramall Lane will be rocking when Southampton visit, but Loftus Road (three sides of it) will be near deserted in January. Few would be surprised if we won both.

Florent Cuvelier, who did more in ten minutes than he did in ten games under David Weir, seems to have given Cloughie a welcome problem.

Where would he play? He’s another Baxter/Scougall type, he could play on either wing, but only from the bench at the moment. We might see him loaned out in January to get some football.

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