With the uncertainty over the future of manager Neil Warnock apparently put to bed - for the moment, at least - normal service has been resumed at Bramall Lane. Sheffield United followed last weekend's narrow derby win over Sheffield Wednesday by putting rather more daylight between themselves and Steve Cotterill's Burnley side.
Inspired by a master class in forward play by Neil Shipperley, the Blades played again with the authority of a side confident of achieving their promotion goal. Warnock's side comfortably closed out their 10th home win of the season, but with Reading doing likewise against Brighton, they still have to repair the damage done by the blip in form that coincided with their manager's flirtation with Portsmouth.
United lost 4-2 at Leicester in the week that Milan Mandaric was trying his hardest to woo Warnock. They were still short of their best as they scraped to a 1-0 victory against Wednesday, but all was well yesterday and Shipperley, in buoyant mood after scoring twice, admitted that Warnock's decision to stay with his home-town club had been critical. "It was unsettling and we needed to know what he was doing before the derby," the veteran striker said.
"We didn't play that well against Wednesday, but this week has been like a fresh start and we played very well today. I felt we dominated the game from start to finish. It was the best we have played for a few weeks."
Shipperley put his side in front with his seventh goal of the season on 29 minutes, seizing possession on the edge of the box, after Danny Webber found his route to goal barred, and beating the Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen with a spectacular shot.
Webber doubled United's advantage five minutes later, finding himself in the right place to apply the finishing touch after Craig Short had headed Nick Montgomery's cross goalwards.
Like most of Cotterill's teams, the Lancashire side, previously beaten only once in seven outings, were often pleasing on the eye, but the threat of a goal from them was no more than sporadic and Warnock's team made the points safe with nine minutes remaining when Phil Jagielka combined with Chris Armstrong on the left to set up Shipperley, who took one touch before beating Jensen again for the second time.Reuse content