Fans have chanted ‘Mind the gap’ for many years now, but it’s not so obvious anymore as we host the Blades on Sunday
“MIND the gap, mind the gap, Sheffield United…”
That has been a regular chant from the blue side of the city for many years now, but with Sheffield Wednesday hosting the Blades for the first time in over five years – the gap isn’t so obvious anymore.
The song originated in 2012 when a playoff final defeat resulted in the Blades staying in League One and the Owls making the step up back into the Championship automatically as a sleeping giant showed signs of waking up.
While that giant hasn’t woken from his slumber, one playoff final and one semifinal in the past two years does suggest that Carlos Carvalhal is doing something right at Hillsborough.
It’s because of that form that – in the first Steel City Derby since 2012 – it is Chris Wilder’s team that will feel the most at ease.
They just got promotion, they’re already batting above their weight, and they spent substantially less than their S6 counterparts during the transfer window.
Despite only just getting promoted, Wilder’s boys have started incredibly well this season as Billy Sharp continues his scoring form from last term, and this game comes at a good time for them.
Wednesday, whose tag as potential title contenders should make them favourites, do seem to be finding their feet having gone unbeaten in seven league games, but as the old cliché goes – form goes out of the window for a game like this, doesn’t it?
There is a bit of a worry in terms of fan behaviour after some of United’s supporters were involved in scuffles against Middlesbrough and Norwich that left several injured – including one Canaries fan with a broken jaw – although the ramped up police presence should be able to deal with whatever is to come.
Meanwhile, on a positive note for Sheffield as a whole, seeing both clubs inside the Championship’s top ten at this stage bodes well, and we could potentially see the Steel City – where the game as we know it was born – pushing for two teams in the top-flight for the first time in a long time.
With two massive fanbases, two of the biggest in the league, Wednesday and United are certainly capable of being Premier League outfits.
But they’ve both been sat in the doldrums while ‘smaller’ clubs try to make their mark in the world’s most profitable football league.
This game is as much about bragging rights as it is about league position for some.
Wednesday have literally been singing about the last win for half a decade (and the Boxing Day win of 1979 for even longer!) and given how long it’s been since the last one, there’s certainly a heightened sense of pressure on the teams.
Wednesday can leapfrog United and the red side of Sheffield can extend their lead over their rivals if they get victory. It may still be early doors, but it’s all to play for.
Mind the gap, because at this stage it seems like it’s getting smaller.