Football fans don’t need much of an excuse to hate one and other.
Some rivalries are based on religious differences, some simply exist because both teams share a stretch of motorway.
But Sheffield United’s unlikely beef with West Ham is due to a controversial relegation and an illegitimate transfer of a certain Carlos Tevez back in August 2006.
West Ham’s ‘Great Escape’ of 2007 was largely owed to the Argentinian and his crucial goals against Bolton and, more famously, his winner at Old Trafford on the final day of the season.
The Irons miraculously stayed up while the Blades were sent back down to The Championship.
It was a long and challenging fight to return to the top flight for Sheffield United who, after 12 years of hurt, are back and they finally had the chance to exact some revenge on the club who they blame for their painful relegation all those years ago.
Neither side could take all three points as the spoils were shared at The London Stadium.
To explain how this all came about, let’s go back to where this controversy all started.
West Ham signed both Tevez and Javier Mascherano through ‘foul play’ including an illegal third party holding a stake in the financial rights of the players.
Basically there were some dodgy dealings behind the scenes and The Hammers got away with it for the year.
Tevez’s masterclasses throughout May kept them up, scoring three in the last two games, while Sheffield went down but campaigned vigorously for West Ham to lose points for their wrong-doing.
Irons fans believe it was a desperate attempt from Sheffield who were clutching at any straw they could to save their club from the drop.
The EFL ended up fining West Ham £5.5million for the suspect dealings and paid out £20m to Sheffield United as compensation.
The Blades spent four years in The Championship before a six year stint in League One.
West Ham did have to face relegation in 2011 but shot back up the year after and have solidified their status in the top flight since Manuel Pellegrini took over in the summer of 2018.
Carlos Tevez left relegation battles behind and went on to win League titles with Man United, Man City and Juventus – he probably isn’t even aware of the rivalry etched in his name.
The two sides look settled in the Premier League this season, both sitting in the top half of the table.
But Sheffield fans haven’t forgotten the hardship and have blamed the 12 year absence of top flight football on the Irons and their slimy back-door dealings to acquire the Argentine pit bull.
West Ham fans will be quick to tell you that Sheffield only needed to beat Wigan on the last day to stay up. And they may have a point.
While this derby isn’t exactly the Old Firm, it’s still probably better than the Brighton/Palace ‘A23 derby,’ right?
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