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Blackwell torn between former clubs Leeds and Sheffield United in promotion race

The Blades hold a one-point advantage over third-placed Leeds.

Kevin Blackwell believes the race for Premier League promotion is too close to call (Chris Radburn/PA)
Kevin Blackwell believes the race for Premier League promotion is too close to call (Chris Radburn/PA)

Former Leeds and Sheffield United boss Kevin Blackwell cannot choose between his former clubs in the Sky Bet Championship’s race for automatic promotion.

The Blades leapfrogged Leeds into second place with victory at Elland Road before the international break and hold a one-point advantage over their Yorkshire rivals with eight games to go.

Norwich have a four-point lead at the top, but Blackwell, currently assistant manager at Cardiff, does not think the title chase is a foregone conclusion either.

“It really does come down to who can mentally handle the last eight games the best,” Blackwell told Press Association Sport. “The team that does will come out on top.

“Norwich look like they’ve just got enough and they’ve got some points to play with, but they’ve only got to lose one game and their advantage can be quickly wiped out.

“People are choosing one from Leeds and Sheffield United, but maybe it’s Norwich who will slip up.

“Their consistency throughout the season has been excellent though, so I don’t see them doing that.

“It’s such a tight finish, I think it’s been great at the top of the Championship. A cracking three-horse race.

“It’s one of the tightest calls for the top two automatic promotion spots there has been for a long time.”

Blackwell, 60, helped Neil Warnock steer Cardiff back to the Premier League last season.

He also won promotion to the top flight with the Blades in 2006 under Warnock, another manager who has had spells in charge of both Yorkshire clubs.

“Leeds are more free-flowing at times and they create lots of chances,” Blackwell said. “The Blades are a bit more pragmatic. They grind the results out.

“When Leeds are on the front foot they are very difficult to beat. But if there is a question mark it is defensively.

“The Blades seem to have more of a blend throughout the team. They’re quite strong at the back, they’re fairly steady in midfield and they can also get goals.

“But one point between the two? Do me a favour. It can turn on a draw. It’s too close to call right now.”

Blackwell guided both Leeds and the Blades to the Championship play-off final during his spells in charge, while he has won promotion with Warnock on six occasions as an assistant, coach or player.

“Whoever goes up, they’re going to find the difference between the Championship and the Premier League is phenomenal,” he added.

“The pace, power, technique, crowds, expectations – everything. The games get dissected, what players do and what they don’t do.

“It’s massive and I think if we can keep Cardiff up then it will definitely be one of our biggest achievements.”

PA

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