ENDA STEVENS believes Sheffield United have earned the respect of their Championship rivals this season.
The Blades sit sixth in the table, following promotion last season, and head to Carrow Road today to face a Norwich City side who were accused of gamesmanship in the first meeting between the sides at Bramall Lane in September.
From the team bus arriving late, to spoiling tactics during the match, United were left frustrated after a 1-0 home loss.
But, ahead of today’s return fixture, wing-back Stevens believes it is a back-handed compliment on the impact Chris Wilder’s side has had on their return to the Championship.
“I think that was our first taste of it (gamesmanship) this season,” said former Doncaster Rovers defender Stevens. “We have all experienced it before, United probably experienced it a lot last season – other teams coming to Bramall Lane to frustrate – but we have just got to expect it, and overcome it.
“It’s a sign of respect, and I think we have earned the respect of everyone in this league.
You are always looking to do better and that’s our mentality. We play games like the derby like we are losing, we just want to win that bad.Sheffield United’s Enda Stevens
“To be in the Championship and the position we are in, we have earned that right. Hopefully, now, we can kick on and really put the pressure on.
“We are expecting a tough game. They came to Bramall Lane and beat us 1-0, which was a frustrating game.
“We were probably the better side, but they defended well and we struggled to break them down.
“We know they are in a good bit of form, they went close against Chelsea in the FA Cup.”
United have struggled to convert decent performances into wins recently, just one victory in 10 in the Championship, after the 0-0 draw with city rivals Wednesday last time out.
But Stevens, 27, is happy to take the positives out of United’s first season back in the Championship.
“After the (Steel City) derby game, we are still in the play-offs, so you can only look at the positives. It’s in our hands, as long as we keep getting results, winning games, we will remain there.
“You are always looking to do better and that’s our mentality. We play games like the derby like we are losing, we just want to win that bad. We want to win every game, it’s the best way to play football. It’s a results business and we have come off that pitch (against Wednesday) disappointed we didn’t get three points. The other team were celebrating just getting one point.”