After the bitter disappointment of losing out on promotion in a penalty shoot-out in the Playoffs, not to mention squandering our seemingly untouchable mid-February lead over fierce rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
I’m sure many Blades will be viewing last season’s events as “typical Sheffield United” and will be looking on to our next campaign, hoping it is finally the one to bring some success and joy to Bramall Lane following a pretty glum couple of years for the club. However, the big question on everyone’s lips is “can we do it?” Well, I think we can.
In my opinion, we’ve had a pretty successful transfer window so far, and we’ve done excellently to hold on to the likes of Kevin McDonald, Harry Maguire and Stephen Quinn (for now, at least).
Although the loss of Matt Lowton to Villa will have an effect on the side, having been to a couple of friendlies and the cup game last week, from what I’ve seen of potential replacements Tony McMahon and Daryl Westlake, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. However, I think the key difference between the two is that Lowton’s youth and potential would almost certainly have lead him to be able to cope with the Championship easily, should we get there. The departure of Lee Williamson may be seen as a loss, but I believe it gives the opportunity for Ryan Flynn to make the step up to being a regular starter, and if Williamson doesn’t want to play for us, then we don’t him. Lastly, the trio of forwards, John Cofie, Shaun Miller and Nick Blackman, have all looked pretty lively and should provide good competition for places. All in all, I have nothing but praise for Danny Wilson in this aspect of management.
Also, I think it is important to note that many people agree when saying the league is weaker this year than last. Out of the sides that have come down, I wouldn’t imagine any of the three ending up promoted. We all know of Portsmouth’s issues and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them relegated. Doncaster are not the side they were three or four years ago, and Coventry don’t look too dangerous either. The sides that have come up, however, aren’t the worst. Swindon look promising under Di Canio, Shrewsbury have some good quality players while Crawley will be on a high after back-to-back promotions and Crewe have a very bright young squad, despite the loss of young starlet Nick Powell.
In conclusion, I think that United stand a very good chance of promotion, but the first few games and results will be crucial. Get off to a poor start and I would predict a lot of ‘fans’ will get on the players’ backs, only making things more difficult. Yet, on the other hand, a good start would bring confidence and get the fans behind them and help in their promotion push. Let’s just hope that we can fulfil it this season. Up the Blades!
You can follow me on Twitter: @calhuntington