James backs Sheffield Utd to reach FA Cup final
League One side Sheffield United face Hull City this weekend at Wembley Stadium, and former Portsmouth and England 'keeper David James believes they have a chance of booking a return date to the capital.
Talking to A Different League, James said: “Sheffield have seen a real upturn in form under Nigel Clough - they have kept 12 clean sheets in the last 16 games.
“The manager has made some big decisions since coming in, for example bringing in ‘keeper Mark Howard from the wilderness. He has really performed since coming in.
“Clough has turned them into such a well organised and disciplined unit who are difficult to break down and score against, and they always seem to leave it late to score the vital goals.”
When Clough took over the club found themselves one place above the relegation zone, outside only on goal difference - since then he has overseen 20 wins and nine draws from his 35 games in charge.
And United have already dumped Premier League sides Aston Villa and Fulham out of the competition to reach this stage, but again will face a top flight side in order to reach the final.
However, recalling his time at Portsmouth when he won the FA Cup as a favourite and reached the final as an outsider, James believes they will thrive under the underdog status.
“The expectation is the main thing, and that goes all the way back to the draw,” added James.
“If Hull underestimate this and turn up thinking they are going to win easily then they could find it difficult.
“At Portsmouth when we won the cup we were favourites for all but one of our ties, when we went to Old Trafford and won.
“We got battered that game but managed to stay in it, believed in ourselves and scored a late penalty, it was magical. When we lost to Chelsea in 2010, the club was on a downward spiral.
“The cup run kept us going and even though we lost we beat Tottenham in the semi finals and we took confidence from all the results.”
James believes that with their organisation the Blades have every chance of gaining a cup final place, even with Hull impressing in the league this term.
James said: “I like Hull and Steve Bruce, they have done very well this year, but they do lack goals to their game.
“Being so difficult to score against and scoring so many late goals I am going to tip Sheffield United to upset the odds.”
Fans can watch The FA Cup semi final between Hull City and Sheffield United exclusively live from 3pm on BT Sport 1 this Sunday. BT Sport is free with BT broadband, to find out more visit www.btsport.com