Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp believes that Leeds didn't see the best of him during his short spell at Elland Road
Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp believes that Leeds didn’t see the best of him during his short spell there.
The Blades captain, who returns to Elland Road on Friday night, live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm, spent the 2014/15 season there but netted just five goals in 33 Championship games.
“I don’t think they did see the best of me,” Sharp told Sky Sports. “It was a stop-start time there, we had three managers while I was there and the club wasn’t stable like it is now.
“The club is doing really well and I’m happy for them, but I’m happy because I’m playing for Sheffield United and I’ve had some really good seasons since I’ve been here.”
Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield United and Reading
Sharp has been rejuvenated since returning to his boyhood club, bagging 30 goals last season as they stormed to the League One title, and scoring five times in nine Championship appearances so far in 2017/18. But he doesn’t feel he has a point to prove.
“I don’t think I’ve got a point to prove, but I’ll enjoy going back there because I like playing against my old clubs and it’ll be a great atmosphere with 30,000 [fans],” he said.
“I know the boys are really looking forward to it, training has been really good this week and it’s another chance for us all to show what we can do in front of the TV cameras.”
Leeds vs Sheff Utd
October 27, 2017, 7:00pm
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Only Harry Kane (37) has more leagues goals in the top four divisions since the start of last season than Sharp (35). His goals have played a key role in Sheffield United’s rise, but he’s insistent that the team is far more than just about him.
“[Kane] is on fire at the moment, but at this team, it’s not about individuals. I was out of the team for four games and we were still grinding out results. Our quality and depth in the squad is better than last year and that competition for places has certainly made us stronger.
“I believe I can score goals if I’m in the team because we create a lot of chances. But the goals have been shared out again like they were last season. [Leon] Clarke is on fire and our defenders and midfielders are chipping in as well.”
One of the games he missed was the Steel City derby, where Clarke scored twice in place of Sharp, who was an unused substitute. The striker admits he was gutted not to be involved in the game – which the Blades won 4-2 – but was still delighted to see his team-mates win.
“I begged the gaffer just to be involved, but it was the second-best feeling other than playing against them to watch the lads do what they did against the enemy!
“It was fun to watch and nice to get one back on them, and in the school playgrounds it was nice to give some stick back to the parents rather than them giving it to me.”
Then there is manager Chris Wilder, another boyhood fan who has inspired Sheffield United’s rise. Sharp feels it’s his duty to ensure that their passion for the club filters into the rest of the squad.
“Everybody knows the gaffer is a massive Blade so I am just trying to install it into the lads in the changing room as well,” he said. “[Players] are signing new contracts to stay here longer and there’s a real buzz about the dressing room and the club at the moment.
“We’ve worked hard for it. The gaffer has come in and put his marker down and he’s driving into us every day not to stop and make sure we keep improving. He made it clear to the lads last year what he wanted, it was just about habits and doing them every single day to the best of your ability, and if you didn’t do that he’d make sure you knew about it.
“But everybody is on the same page and, like I said, the seven or eight new lads who have come in know exactly what he wanted and adapted really quickly, and it’s a really good bunch of lads to be a part of.”
Wilder has secured back-to-back promotions in the EFL, taking Northampton up from League Two the season before doing the same with Sheffield United, and his success is starting to attract attention from higher up. But Sharp believes his boss is there to stay.
“Obviously I don’t want him to [leave],” he said. “It’s a nice problem for the gaffer to have, he’s done really well all his career and he’s worked his way up. It would be nice for him to manage in the Premier League but it would be even better for him to do it with Sheffield United.
“It’s his decision at the end of the day, but I think I know what he’ll do.”
Sheffield United could go top of the Championship with victory on Friday night, and their start to the season has got fans dreaming of a return to the Premier League. Although Sharp insists there’s still a long way to go.
“It would be amazing but it’s far too early to even think about that,” he said. “We’re doing really well at the moment and we’re striving to get as high as we can.
“But we’ve got two tough away games coming up, obviously with the first one against Leeds.”
And would he celebrate if he scored at his old ground? “Of course! I’m a Sheffield United player now, it’s my job and I will celebrate. As long as it’s a goal that puts us in front!”
Don’t miss the Sky Bet Championship clash between Leeds and Sheffield United on Friday night, live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm