It has been a while since Sheffield United were in the Premier League. The Blades are going back to the top flight for the first time in 12 years. That’s a long time for a club to be trying to climb up the Football Pyramid. It is always a welcome sight to see a fresh face in England’s top division, […]
It has been a while since Sheffield United were in the Premier League. The Blades are going back to the top flight for the first time in 12 years. That’s a long time for a club to be trying to climb up the Football Pyramid. It is always a welcome sight to see a fresh face in England’s top division, where there is always a chance for an upset.
Sheffield United was founded in 1889, as part of a cricket club. They play at Bramall Lane, the oldest professional football stadium in the world. They have a lot of history, including being one of the first clubs to be broadcast over the radio. While there are many positives, the club has had their struggles, being relegated to League One multiple times, most recently within the past decade.
The club is managed by Chris Wilder, who, in fact, is a lifelong Sheffield United supporter. Last season, they finished 2nd in the Championship, gaining automatic promotion. Solid at the back, they conceded a joint-fewest 41 goals in 46 games. This solidity will help them to an extent, but I think they will find the Premier League to be unforgiving.
Although the club averaged 15.2 tackles and 12.6 shots per game, the tempo will be a lot faster in the Premier League. For an older squad, that will add up quickly. The club only has signed one player who isn’t from the United Kingdom, which is very unique. In defense, they signed Phil Jagielka, 36, on a free from Everton. In attack, they have Billy Sharp, 33-year old striker, partnered with David McGoldrick, who is 31, up top. They have signed Lys Mousset from Bournemouth and are linked with Swansea’s Oliver McBurnie, which would add youth to their attack.
The club plays an interesting style of football, Typically a 3-4-2-1, they change shape in attack, as well as defense. One unique feature is that they have their wide center backs, (left and right center backs on the back three) push out and overload the flanks in the attack. This allows the wing-backs to get incredibly high up the pitch. This will either be a genius move to ensure safety in the top flight or an ill-fated attempt that leads Sheffield to be picked apart due to their lack of pace.
The biggest thing that the club can do is add some quicker defenders. There should be some big clubs looking to loan out their young talents, such as Manchester City or Liverpool. Maybe a loan move for Liverpool’s newly signed Sepp Van den Berg, although he probably won’t be eligible, or maybe a veteran like Elaquim Mangala from Manchester City. Sure, the wages would be a difficult hurdle but could provide some freshness to an older squad. Another option could be Eric Garcia from City, who has impressed this preseason, or Axel Tuanzebe from United. The Blades already have United’s Dean Henderson on loan in net, so it could be beneficial to let those youngsters play together.
All in all, I don’t think Sheffield United have a ton of money to work with. They need to start signing players who are going to make an impact. The transfer window is closing soon, so there is little time to waste. I like the unique style of the club and its tactics, but that is going to be incredibly difficult to implement in the top flight. My predictions for the season is that Sheffield United finish dead last, being too 1 dimensional in their game plans. They will be burned on the counter-attack and the top clubs will grind them down and be able to unlock their regimented defense. Their attack is a year older and in a better league, so it could prove to be a season where they hope they are clinical enough on set pieces to steal some points that they will desperately need.