Sheffield United’s last two promotions to the Premier League have only lasted three seasons. They won a battle against Leeds United last season to clinch the second automatic promotion spot in the Championship. The club have been busy in the transfer market during the summer. Have they done enough to stay in the Premier League?
Sheffield United looked as if they might have to settle for the Championship play-offs. However, a strong finish and another Leeds United collapse saw them take the second automatic promotion spot behind Norwich City. United earned 89 points last season winning 26 of their 46 league games. Billy Sharp scored 23 league goals for them and he’s going to be a crucial player as they bid to stay in the Premier League.
Three years ago, Sheffield United were preparing for a season in League One. There have been two promotions since then and plenty of changes in their playing staff. More have taken place since they won promotion to the Premier League. New signings have included Lys Mousset from Bournemouth for £10m. The French striker played 58 Premier League games for the Cherries but only scored three goals.
Goalkeeper Dean Henderson is spending a second season on loan from Manchester United. He played every league game for United last season. Phil Jagielka has been signed from Everton and that’s a good signing as they need players with Premier League experience. A risky signing is that of Ravel Morrison who has had his fair share of off the field problems.
Ben Osborn has been signed from Nottingham Forest, Callum Robinson from Preston and Luke Freeman from QPR. Perhaps United need to be reminded that they’re planning for a season in the Premier League not the Championship The signings haven’t ended yet and a big move for Swansea City striker Ollie McBurnie is high on their list.
A lack of Premier League experience could be a problem. The signings of Jagielka and Morrison will help but a couple more veterans might be handy.
Billy Sharp is a legend at Brammall Lane, but for all his goals, he hasn’t played in the Premier League. David McGoldrick was second top scorer last season with 15 league goals, but he hasn’t had a match in the top flight either. McGoldrick is 32 in November and Sharp 33 in February. How they get on in the Premier League is going to be vital for United
Plenty of players are being signed and that’s risky in some ways. It may take time for the new look team to gel and that could lead to a poor start being made.
Early Season Fixtures
10 August: Bournemouth (away)
18 August: Crystal Palace (home)
24 August: Leicester City (home)
31 August: Chelsea (away)
14 September: Southampton (home)
They could have been given a much tougher first five games. Chelsea away isn’t going to be easy but the other four are all matches that could produce points, even wins. The first three home games aren’t nightmarish at all, unless Palace continue their impressive away form. At least a couple of wins look possible early on. The odds on them winning at Bournemouth are 16/5 (4.2) at BetVictor.
It gets a bit more difficult after the game with Southampton. They travel to Everton before a home match with Liverpool. Christmas and New Year might not be too jolly a time with sucessive games against Manchester City and Liverpool. United are 7/2 (4.5) at Ladbrokes to be bottom at Xmas.
Their tough period is followed in January with games against West Ham, Arsenal and the return game with the defending champions. Could the final day game at Southampton be a crucial match? They are 6/5 (2.2) at William Hill to stay up this season.
Sheffield United have been busy in the transfer market and they need to be. There’s a growing gap between the Championship and the Premier League and not everyone has as much money as Wolves. In Chris Wilder, they have a promising manager but those kind of bosses often get poached. United need to get off to a good start and their early fixture list isn’t that difficult. Even so, they will struggle to survive and an immediate return to the Championship looks on the cards. It’s 8/11 (1.72) at Betfair that they are relegated.