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Sheffield United season preview 2020-21
Chris Wilder's Blades overachieved last season
by Matt Hill
11 Sep 2020, 10:26

Predicted to finish bottom of the pile by many a pre-season preview, Sheffield United were last term's success story.  

But with the Blades now a known commodity, will defying the odds prove as easy this time around?

How did they perform in 2019-20?

Sheffield United became the second team of many fans last season due to their unique brand of bold, well-organised and possession-based football under Chris Wilder. 

The wily boss (pictured above) entered his maiden Premier League season with a squad seemingly short of star quality ahead of what was forecasted to be a grim battle for survival. 

But those predictions were made to look foolish as his well-drilled unit conceded just 39 goals — the best defensive record outside of the top three. 

Only a late season dip and defeats in their final three matches cost them a deserved European place.

Who are the new faces?

With Dean Henderson’s fine form during a two-year stint at Bramall Lane prompting Manchester United to add him to their first-team set-up, the Blades swooped to sign a familiar face in Bournemouth stopper Aaron Ramsdale. 

The keeper played his youth football at Bramall Lane and has big shoes to fill after signing for £18.5million.

Chelsea starlet Ethan Ampadu has joined on a season-long loan, with the highly-rated Wales international adding some excellent technical quality to Wilder's midfield and defensive options. 

Exciting Derby full-backs Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe were snapped up in a double swoop for £15m, while Oliver Burke could be a worthwhile gamble from West Brom if he can rediscover the form that saw him tipped for the top as a youngster.

What is the manager saying?

"Success for me would be to cement ourselves as a Premier League side. Off the pitch, making ourselves better and on the pitch... well, nothing is guaranteed.

"Will it be a failure if we stay in the division again? I don’t know about that, but can we achieve what we did last season? That has to be the aim.

"We feel we have brought players in to improve the group and now we have to go and produce what we produced last year.

"I love working for this football club and with this group of players.

"It's great seeing the staff and we are all hungry for more. We are not comfortable — we will never be comfortable and pat ourselves on the back. It’s a ruthless division and you have to go again."

What do the fans expect?

Blades fans may have been quietly confident that their team could avoid the drop last term, but even the most optimistic of supporters would have been hard-pressed to predict a top-half finish. 

‘Second season syndrome’ is far from a reliable formula, but it would be fair to assume the Blades may struggle to reach the heights achieved in 2019-20. 

Providing they can avoid a relegation battle, there should not be too many complaints.

When is their first game?

Sheffield United begin their season at home to Wolves on Monday. The game kicks off at 6pm and will be live on Sky Sports. 

The Blades registered a 1-0 victory in this fixture back in July thanks to John Egan’s late winner, while the spoils were shared in December’s 1-1 draw at Molineux.