Can The FA Cup restore United's pride?

Last updated : 23 January 2013 By SheffieldUnitedMad

Reading vs Blades - Madejski Stadium

Upsets can happen in cup games can't they? Try telling Blades fans that ahead of our FA Cup 4th Round tie at Premier League side Reading at the weekend.

A run of four games without a win has caused unrest amongst Blades fans, who are understandably becoming very apprehensive about this season's promotion aspirations from League One, particularly considering last season's breakdown is still in the back of fans' minds.

Two dreadful home losses to bottom-of-the-league Hartlepool United and Yeovil Town, coupled with two draws away from home at Doncaster and Notts County has seen United fall eight points behind the pace-setters at the top of the table - Tranmere Rovers and the aforementioned Doncaster Rovers.

Sandwiched in between United's indifferent League form is a decent 3:0 away win at Oxford in the FA Cup, awarding Danny Wilson's men with an away tie at a top flight outfit.

Reading meanwhile have been enjoying their best form of the season in recent weeks having lost just once in their last six outings in all competitions, with that loss coming at Andre Villas Boas' Tottenham Hotspur, which is no shame.

It could quite conceivably be one loss in seven if Manchester City's Gareth Barry didn't nick a late winner against Brian McDermott's men at the Etihad Stadium just before Christmas.

As per every season, Reading started their FA Cup campaign in the 3rd Round alongside every other top two division sides, meaning they've had to win just one game to get to this stage of the competition, opposed to the Blades' three.

That win came at United's League One counterparts Crawley Town, with Noel Hunt's goal coming either side of former Rotherham striker Adam Le Fondre's strikes, earning the Berkshire club a 3:1 victory at the Broadfield Stadium.

Le Fondre was the centre of attention on Saturday too when he turned Reading's Barclays Premier League fixture at Newcastle on its head with two second-half goals to give the Royals their first away league win of the season.

Danny Wilson has treated the FA Cup with a huge amount of respect this season, fielding just about his strongest possible line-up in the games against Bristol Rovers, Port Vale and Oxford United.

Whether Reading's Brian McDermott decides to do the same remains to be seen. He might have their Premier League clash with Chelsea just four days later in mind when selecting his starting eleven though.

He does have goalscorers at his disposal, with Adam Le Fondre and Pavel Pogrebnyak scoring 18 goals between them thus far.

In terms of stadia, fanbase and history, United can quite easily compete with Reading, but the divisions where the two clubs currently find themselves hit home the harsh reality of the predicament the Blades find themselves in.

United need to get back to the big time as soon as possible, and with the League One table not making quite comfortable viewing at the moment, perhaps a victory at the Madejski Stadium at the weekend will restore a bit of pride?