Sheffield United v Hull City: Blades’ front-foot style was the lure for Norwood

Oliver Norwood pictured at the Shirecliffe Academy after signing for Sheffield United (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage).
Oliver Norwood pictured at the Shirecliffe Academy after signing for Sheffield United (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage).
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NEW signing Oliver Norwood says the prospect of joining Sheffield United was a much bigger attraction than Hull City after Chris Wilder pipped the East Riding club to the midfielder’s signature.

The 27-year-old has signed for the Blades on loan until January when his move from Brighton & Hove Albion will be made permanent for around £2m.

Oliver Norwood playing for Brighton & Hove Albion against Huddersfield Town in the Championship 18 months ago (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).

Oliver Norwood playing for Brighton & Hove Albion against Huddersfield Town in the Championship 18 months ago (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).

Hull had wanted to sign Norwood, who played under Tigers manager Nigel Adkins at Reading.

But an inability to agree a deal with the Seagulls after having three bids turned down allowed United, fresh from selling Lee Evans to Wigan Athletic late last week, to swoop and bring Norwood back north.

“Hull did try to sign me,” said the Northern Ireland international, who is likely to make his debut against the Tigers in tonight’s Carabao Cup first round tie.

“They tried quite hard, but this is football, it is business. They couldn’t get the deal done and Sheffield United did. To be honest, I would much rather have come to Sheffield United than go there.

“It is nice to be wanted. There were a few clubs linked and certain things went on. But until it is signed you never know with football. Things can change from one day to the next.

“That did happen to me. There was no contact as such, but then Lee Evans went to Wigan on Thursday and by Friday I was coming here. That shows how quickly things can change.

“It is good to be back up north, too. I am from Burnley and understand what it means to the fans of the northern clubs to go and cheer your team on each Saturday.

“It is a big thing I have missed, that great footballing atmosphere you get in the northern grounds. I couldn’t be any happier to be back up north and at a club going places.”

Norwood’s decision to join the Blades is a coup for their manager Wilder, not least because the midfielder arrives on the back of helping Brighton and Fulham to promotion in the past two seasons.

“He wanted to come here, and that was a big thing for me,” said Wilder. “He wanted to progress with us.

“He saw what we were about last year and he wants to add to that. I want him to add to it as well. I still think there is a lot more to come from us and I think he will bring something different.

“Ollie has done consistently well in this division. So if he can sprinkle a bit of magic, having been involved in two sides who won a lot of games, then I will be really happy.”

For Norwood, the move to Bramall Lane brings a return to Yorkshire.

He spent two years at Huddersfield Town, joining a few weeks after the club had clinched promotion from League One by beating Sheffield United at Wembley.

The Terriers spent those couple of seasons battling relegation, but Norwood’s performances earned him a £1.2m switch to Reading in August, 2014.

“This was an important move for me,” said Norwood about joining the Blades. “It was one of those things we spoke about, me and my agent, in the summer. I had to be patient to get the right one and I definitely feel I got the right one here.

“The dressing room is a great bunch, I can tell that already. The gaffer is the same. Hopefully, I can repay the faith the club has shown in me.

“This club feels a good fit. I know this league well and have played more than 250 games in it. I know my way around. I genuinely fancied Sheffield United to make the play-offs last season, I honestly did. They had a wonderful season for a team coming out of League One.

“And maybe that little bit of knowhow and experience is there this time.”

Norwood knows all about the team he has joined after twice facing United in the colours of Fulham last season during his loan spell. The London club won both times, but the game at the Lane in early November was a thriller as the home side lost by the odd goal in nine.

“Sheffield United were tough to play against last season,” he said. “Very tough. I played in the 5-4 here and both teams played some unbelievable football.

“It was a shame there had to be a loser. [It was] one of those where we both went for it and that is what I like about this team, they go on the front foot.

“Funnily enough Fulham were struggling at the time. We were 17th in November and yet finished third. It was a hell of a run, but momentum can do that in the Championship. Teams start to fear you.

“My old club Huddersfield showed what can be done a couple of years ago if the momentum is behind you and the fans are fully on side.”

Last six games: Sheffield United LLWLLW Hull City LDLDLD.

Referee: M Coy (County Durham).

Last time: Sheffield United 4 Hull City 1; November 4, 2017; Championship.