Philip Rebbeck gets in touch: “It might be worth noting that these two grand old clubs have won the FA Cup ten times between them. Admittedly the last came in 1925 and 1928 respectively but still impressive.”
Daniel Gallan wrote a short preview of this match.
It’s been eight years since a team from outside the Premier League made the semi-finals of the FA Cup (Reading, in 2015). That drought will end this Sunday as one of Sheffield United or Blackburn will progress to the last four. This is the most open and inclusive edition of the tournament for some time – half of the final eight teams play outside the top flight. Sheffield United were third-tier semi-finalists in 2014, and this is their third quarter-final in four seasons. Blackburn have a shoddy record at Bramall Lane, having lost there in all four of their previous visits – and Rovers’ last win here came courtesy of an Alan Shearer double in 1994. A win this weekend and a trip to Wembley would provide a shot in the arm for either team as they both push for promotion.
My colleague and friend Will Unwin travelled up the M65 to deepest Lancashire, to get the lowdown on Rovers.
The last time Blackburn won an FA Cup quarter-final, in 2007, Hayden Carter was at Manchester City – the club they beat that day – albeit in the under-sevens. The defender was released at 13 and was signed by Blackburn, where he has been joined by a number of teammates who went through similar rejection at Premier League clubs. They hope the next stage of their journey will be a Wembley semi-final, the reward if they win at Sheffield United on Sunday.
Rovers’ facilities and setup attract youngsters from farther afield. Lewis Travis arrived after time with Liverpool in his mid-teens, Joe Rankin-Costello from Manchester United and Tyrhys Dolan played for Manchester City, Preston and Burnley before joining in his late teens.
Good detail on those Champo clubs’ team news tweets. Premier League teams take note, as requested by the MBM community.
Sheffield United: Foderingham; Ahmedhodzic, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Doyle, Berge, McAtee, Lowe; Ndiaye, McBurnie. Subs: Davies, Bogle, Basham, Arblaster, Norwood, Coulibaly, Fleck, Jebbison, Sharp
Blackburn Rovers: Pears, Rankin-Costello, Carter, Hyam, Pickering, Travis, Morton, Hedges, Szmodics, Brereton, Gallagher. Subs: Kaminski, Brittain, S. Wharton, Phillips, Edun, Garrett, A. Wharton, Dolan, Leonard.
A big day out for the Championship, on terrestrial TV, rather than those of us devoted to the dulcet tones of Don Goodman and Andy Hinchcliffe, David Prutton and Michelle Owens in the studio, with Lee Hendrie’s suits an extra bonus. Both teams have far bigger fish to fry in the EFL, with Blades in second but with Middlesbrough’s hot breath down their neck. Rovers meanwhile were grateful to Neil Warnock’s Huddersfield yesterday and kept their toe in sixth place, and a play-off chance.
Now for the distraction of the FA Cup in which Blades have a more storied recent history than Rovers, despite Blackburn’s 1990s golden era. United reached the semis in 2013-14, losing to Hull, 2002-3, losing to Arsenal, and 1992-3, losing to Sheffield Wednesday with Alan Cork’s beard up front. Rovers last reached the semis in 2004-5, when they lost to Arsenal with Mark Hughes as manager. The previous time to that was in 1960, Brian Douglas and all that, when they lost the final in to Wolves.
To set aside all that history, both managers, Paul Heckingbottom and Jon-Dahl Tomasson, are likely to shuffle their pack. Blades did just that against Tottenham in the previous round and that really stuck in the craw of Antonio Conte, who mentioned it as part of his rant at Southampton yesterday.
Anyway, a visit to Wembley for two of English football’s oldest clubs is on the line.
Kick-off at 12pm UK time. Join me.