What can we say about The Blades…
Sheffield United must be one of the most frustrating teams in English football. Currently plying their trade in SkyBet League 1, sitting in 11th place. Played 36 (Won 14, Drawn 10, Lost 12 – Scored 52, conceded 47), a record that is not suitable for a club of their size in that division.
Wind the clock back to season 2006-07 and you’ll find Neil Warnock’s men playing Liverpool, Man United and Arsenal instead of Port Vale, Bury and Fleetwood (no offence to these clubs). United suffered heartbreaking relegation on the final day with a defeat against Wigan which included a goal against them by former player David Unsworth from the penalty spot. Warnock resigned days after the drop was confirmed.
It wasn’t however, this game or Warnock’s departure that would ultimately define the Yorkshire club’s football being played at a lower level the following season. West Ham United’s questionable signings of Tevez and Mascherano saved the Hammers. 2 years after the event, a deal was struck that enabled Sheff Utd to receive £18.1M for the part played by the Argentine pair at Upton Park.
Fast forward through the next 4 Championship seasons and you’ll see 2 middle of the road finishes the play-off final defeat and finally the relegation to the 3rd tier of English Football for the 1st time since the 1989-90 campaign.
Speed up to current times and you’ll see that they are among the favourites for promotion from SkyBet League One year after year and rightly so. Big crowds, well known managers and a relatively expensive squad for the level at which they ply their trade makes them strong candidates each year.
As previously mentioned they are currently ranked 55 of 92 in England, but just what has happened in the short space of 10 years that has left the club where they are right now…
1) They are on their 8th manager since Warnock!
Bryan Robson, Gary Speed, Micky Adams, David Weir all in charge for less than 40 matches
Kevin Blackwell, Danny Wilson and Nigel Clough all managed around 100, with former Southampton manager Nigel Adkins currently at the helm. All known names with different ideas would cause confusion at any club.
2) Ched Evans
He was their main man, 35 goals in all comps just before he was convicted of rape. The Blades acted correctly in terminating Evans’ contract. 2014 rolled around and they held talks about re-signing the Welshman , 150,000 people signed a petition urging the club not to do so. Terrible publicity and uncertainty around the club was created.
3) Player Turnover
Much like the managerial situation, United have chopped and changed too often. Extreme amounts of loans both in and out contribute to the numbers below. 9 seasons have seen:-
Incomings – 117
Outgoings – 182
4) Jose Baxter
The attacking midfielder is still employed at Bramall Lane despite currently being suspended for a 2nd time in 9 months. May 2015 saw an FA ban for failing a drugs test, we are currently awaiting a reason for the February 2016 suspension.
5) Sheff Wed 2011-12
Only 1 season within the decade however…
Losing out on the automatic promotion place to their fiercest rivals Wednesday will have hurt the club. Whilst they managed to pick themselves up and make the play off final an 8-7 penalty defeat to Huddersfield consigned them to a further stay in League 2 whilst Wednesday are now challenging for play-off places and a place in the Premier League. As the Wednesday fans like to sing “Mind the gap, Mind the gap Sheff United”
The Blades are a big club that are in a league they should not be in based on club stature, however are there deserving of how they have been run and how they perform on the pitch.
Adkins has not had the desired effect since he took the position in June 15 and it appears that a late end of season play off push is beyond them. He is a manager with a proven record at this level and with a 3 year deal signed, I hope they stick with their most recent choice.
The city of Sheffield needs 2 strong football teams, it currently has 1. How long before the 2nd will rise to the challenge?