Sheffield United Face Challenge In Bouncing Back Into Premier League

Sheffield United’s relegation to the Championship was confirmed after their defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers in April.

The Blades’ return to the top-flight lasted only two years, with the club suffering from second-season syndrome. Under Chris Wilder, United surprised the Premier League in the 2019/20 campaign by punching above their weight to place in ninth.

However, the Blades were unable to sustain their form into the second year.

Indeed, it took the club eighteen games to muster a victory and they were able to edge past the lowest points tally in the history of the Premier League. Wilder paid the price for their failure (Via The Independent) due to their poor performances, but also after a fallout with owner Prince Musaad bin Khalid Al Saud.

Paul Heckingbottom was charged with overseeing the Blades’ fortunes until the end of the campaign and is one of the favourites to earn the position on a full-time basis.

The choice of manager is one of many issues facing the Blades on their return to the Championship. Norwich City and Watford proved that clubs could bounce back at the first attempt, but the Canaries kept faith in Daniel Farke, while the Hornets maintained the majority of their Premier League squad to dominate the second tier.

United do not tick the first box, but there could be hope for them to mount a challenge for promotion based on the quality of their side. The Blades should certainly be among the leading contenders in the football betting odds to win the Championship or at least finish in the top two. However, they will also have the two other relegated sides for the company along with several talented teams in the second tier that missed out on promotion.

The Blades will be hopeful that the talent in their squad is enough to overcome those potential hurdles. Aaron Ramsdale has not been outstanding this term, but he has the attributes to be a sound keeper in the second tier. George Baldock, Enda Stevens, John Egan, Jack O’Connell and Chris Basham were all in place under Wilder in United’s promotion campaign in the 2018/19 season. Unless they’ve taken a step backwards in the Premier League, they should provide a solid base of protection ahead of Ramsdale.

John Fleck, John Lundstram and Ollie Norwood were the starting midfield for the Blades in their Championship run two years ago. Fleck has displayed ability in the Premier League but is unlikely to attract attention from the top-flight at the age of twenty-nine. Sander Berge could be the midfielder to depart, although he has not quite lived up to the billing of his £22m fee following his move from Genk. At the age of twenty-three, there could be interest if the Blades are willing to take a loss on their deal.

The forward line has been United’s main issue throughout the tenure in the Premier League. The players acquired by Wilder for significant sums failed to rise to the occasion. Rhian Brewster and Oli McBurnie have combined (Source Daily Mirror) for only one league goal in the current campaign, despite an outlay of £40m on the two players.

Brewster performed well in the Championship previously for Swansea City as did McBurnie. Therefore, there could be hope for the Blades that the duo could fire them out of the second tier once again.

There’s definite potential in the ranks, but they have to prove it on the field.

Next season is going to be a tough challenge for Sheffield United to bounce back at the first attempt. Whoever is in the dugout will have a solid squad, but they need to revitalise the team for a new surge at promotion.

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