The Premier League is finally back on the 11th August and with that in mind, we’ve done a season preview of every club and their chances for the upcoming season. Here, we’ve taken a look at Paul Heckingbottom’s Sheffield United.
Last season: 2nd (Championship)
Top Scorer: Iliman Ndiaye (14)
Transfers In: Benie Traore – BK Hacken (£4m), Anis Slimane – Brondby (£2.2m), Yasser Larouci – Troyes (loan)
Transfers Out: Jake Eastwood – Grimsby Town (undisclosed), Enda Stevens – Stoke City (free transfer), Billy Sharp (released), Jack O’Connell (released), Kyron Gordon (released), Iliman Ndiaye – Marseille (£14m), Zak Brunt – Barnet (undisclosed), Jake Eastwood – Grimsby Town (undisclosed)
First game: Crystal Palace (H)
As a newly-promoted team to the Premier League, the one and only ambition for Sheffield United this season is to survive.
The Blades spent just two seasons in the Championship following their relegation from the Premier League in 2020-21, a campaign which saw them finish rock bottom on just 23 points, with this last experience in the the top tier of English football certainly a bruising one.
Things at Bramall Lane have not changed too much following relegation two years ago, with the then interim manager Paul Heckingbottom now in permanent charge of the Blades, and first team players such as John Egan, George Baldock, Ollie Norwood, John Fleck, Sander Berge and Oli McBurnie all still key members of the squad.
Iliman Ndiaye was the catalyst behind Sheffield United’s promotion-winning campaign, but the skillful Senegal international opted to swap the Premier League for Ligue 1, after turning down a new contract from the Blades in order to join boyhood club Marseille. Life goes on, but it’s a bitter blow for the red side of Sheffield and now the challenge is to find goals from another source, which could be a challenge.
Sander Berge, at the time of writing, looks to be on the verge of sealing a move to fellow newly-promoted side Burnley. Maybe a move that was expected for Blades fans after the club resisted the urge to cash in on the Norwegian back in January.
The sales of Berge and Ndiaye, plus the contract expiry of Billy Sharp and Enda Stevens, means that 100 league starts from last season have disappeared into thin air. That also robs the Blades of two of their four most regular outfield starters and their top goalscorer.
Despite all the apparent change, Sheffield United have managed to retain their greatest asset from last season – their defence. They boasted the second best defence in the Championship and the three first-choice central defenders, two first-choice full-backs and goalkeeper have remained.
Bramall Lane was somewhat of a fortress for the Blades last term, and this season will have to follow suit if they are to have any hopes of surviving, they recorded 16 victories and suffered just four losses in front of the Sheffield United faithful.
Heckingbottom will most likely be aware that his side could be embroiled in a relegation battle for the majority of the season, and they are second favourites, behind Luton, to drop back down to the second tier. However, they survived back 2019-20 at the first time of asking, so perhaps they could once again.