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Question Time - Ollie Norwood

4 April 2019

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Ollie Norwood was the main focus of Saturday's 'Question Time' in UTB - United's ever popular matchday programme.

The influential midfielder adorned the cover of the Bristol City issue, before going on to speak exclusively at length about a host of United related topics, including the Blades pursuit of promotion to the Premier League in his first season at the Bramall Lane.

With eight games to go and sitting second in the SkyBet Championship table, Ollie Norwood says the Blades can attack the remainder of the campaign with confidence.

Speaking exclusively to UTB's Mark Woollas ahead of today's encounter, the 27-year-old, who has won promotion from this division for the past two seasons, also talks about the international break as United shoehorned in a trip to sunny Spain.

The influential midfielder also reiterated his delight at making the permanent move to S2, a switch that saw him return home to his native north.

UTB: During the international break, how good was it to have a change of scenery with the majority of the squad?
ON: It was a good week away, it was nice to get some sun on our backs and keep the lads together on the back of the positive week we'd had by beating Rotherham, Brentford and Leeds.
Going down to ten men was tough against Brentford, but that night epitomised what this group of players and staff is all about. We dug in, ran for each other and did everything we needed to do.
Then we went to Leeds and apart from the result we won't want to look back too much at that performance, but the previous Tuesday night had taken a lot out of us and all that really mattered at Elland Road was the result.
Going away was good in terms of that we've had the chance to rest and relax, but we also trained hard, which is important. It was a lovely place on the outskirts of Valencia.

UTB: It is clear that you think the Brentford result was a big one, how do you reflect on it more than a fortnight on?
ON: Things like what happened in the Brentford game could be season-defining moments. It was backs to the wall and a heroic effort to get the three points.
We had something to hold on to and the gaffer just urged the boys to keep a shape and be tough to beat, luckily, though, we scored a second which clinched the three points.
In seasons there are defining moments. For me, when we look back in eight games, that could be a big one.

UTB: Having played four games knowing you was a booking away from a two-match suspension, how relieved was you to have successfully walked the tightrope?
ON: I do like to try and get stuck in and make tackles, obviously I'm not the best at them and as a midfielder it's difficult not to commit fouls when you are trying to break up play, it was even tougher against Brentford, but I got through it.
The gaffer spoke to me and his words were clear, 'don't dare get booked', so missing a few tackles in recent games was a wiser decision than getting a rollocking from him! There were one or two when I pulled out, there was one against Brentford and I had a laugh about it afterwards, when the whole stadium couldn't believe I'd not made a tackle, but I didn't want to miss two games for something silly.

UTB: Without cursing things, is it fair to say this football club is moving quickly in the right direction?
ON: This football club has probably had it bad for a good number of years, prior to the last two or three, but it is certainly moving forward now. What the gaffer has done here, with the group he inherited and how he has evolved it, he's really brought it back to the fore and deserves massive credit for what he has done. I don't think he always gets the praise he deserves.

UTB: How much do you enjoy working under Chris Wilder and Alan Knill?
ON: The thing I love about the gaffer is he places the responsibility on you and treats you like an adult. At times, some managers still treat players as if you are still in an academy, but the majority of us have our own families, we are fathers, so we are old enough and wise enough to know what we can and can't do.
The gaffer is a winner and what gripped me straight away when I came was how losing makes him feel and react, I thought I don't want to see too many of these talks. I've known Knilly for a long time, he's a fantastic, top coach, tactically very good and outside the club probably doesn't get the credit he deserves, but what they've achieved here is nothing short of phenomenal.

UTB: When you made the move to Bramall Lane last August, how important was it to pick the right club back up north?
ON: Once Sheffield United were put to me I forgot about everything else, to be honest. I've played against the Blades before for two or three different clubs at different levels and I just really liked how the team played last season and the club in general. We talked at the end of last season when my future with Fulham was up in the air and I made it clear it was something that always appealed to me. The club took a punt and it seems to have worked well.
I wanted to get home, I've dragged my wife around the country, she's never once moaned and we've lived a good lifestyle, but in my mind I owed it her to get us home, having been as far south as Brighton when she was pregnant!

UTB: Be honest, did you think the season would go the way it has?
ON: I'll say this now, I honestly didn't envisage things going this well, so that's a credit to all involved. I thought we'd have a realistic shot at the play-offs, but to be where we are with it in our hands, with eight games to go, let's give it one last push and see where it takes us.

UTB: Finally, this week you was named in the EFL Sky Bet Championship Team of the Year, alongside Billy Sharp. What was your reaction to the news?
ON: Obviously I'm delighted to be recognised, I would have thought a few more of our players would have been included too. Some of the lads here, not just me and Billy, have done fantastically well this season and it's been a real team effort to get to where we are now.
There's been a few accolades this season but one of the main ones for me was the gaffer giving me the captaincy when Billy wasn't in the team. It was a really proud moment, actually, and one that surprised me. There are a lot of senior players here, but I thrive on responsibility, I'm loud in the dressing room and a big talker on the pitch.

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