By 90Min
August 08, 2019

With the Premier League 2019/20 season on the horizon, the red side of the Steel City have returned to England's top division for the first time in 12 years. 

After impressing in the Championship last season, with an incredible 2019 run (featuring only three losses), the Blades have looked to reinforce in the hope they can build on their success and push towards Premier League survival.

The fans are positive, the experts predict relegation, but what is really in store for United on their emotional return to the big time? 

Below we go through the key factors looking into next year, seeing if we can unpick how Chris Wilder's men will fare.


Last Season

Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

2018/19 was a surprise for United. In the EFL's most unpredictable division, the Blades were never many's favourites for promotion to the Premier League, having only been promoted to the Championship the year prior. 

However, with Billy Sharp's goals, the support of their committed fans and Wilder at the helm, a resurgent 2019 saw the so-important Championship trait of momentum push them to challenge Norwich at the top of the table. 

With the least amount of goals conceded in the division, the best goal difference, and the second most wins, it was a great season all around - despite limited success in the cup competitions.

What last season showed was that the club have the credentials to push further with the right backing and the right acquisitions - but Wilder remaining at the helm throughout the campaign will be fundamental to any success.


Pre-Season

With four wins and two losses in six games, it has been a largely positive pre-season for the Blades. A win against resurgent Real Betis represents a major scalp for the club, but losses against Burton and Stade Reims show work stills need to be done.

New signings have featured, as have a handful of young players. with talismanic striker Sharp looking particularly impressive in front of goal

Finding a balance between familiarity and bringing in the required quality is always difficult, and pre-season has evidenced that the Blades will need to be at their cohesive best throughout the campaign.


Transfers In

There have been numerous new signings for United over the summer, with seven new arrivals at the club. 

Lys Mousset and Oliver McBurnie have arrived from Bournemouth and Swansea respectively to compete with Sharp and David McGoldrick up top, adding more firepower to Wilder's offensive arsenal.

Attacking midfielders Luke Freeman and Ravel Morrison have also entered the fray, with Freeman's arrival from QPR looking a particularly shrewd buy. At the back, re-signing Phil Jagielka demonstrates Wilder's awareness for top flight experience - and the former Blades captain has hit in abundance.

Dean Henderson rejoining on loan from Manchester United could also be vital business, with the young goalkeeper impressing last season en-route to promotion.


Transfers Out

Harriet Lander/GettyImages

Few have left this summer as Wilder looked to beef his squad up before the start of the season. Martin Cranie's departure to Luton is probably the biggest change, with Conor Washington joining Hearts and Paul Coutts moving to Fleetwood.

Nathan Thomas and Jake Eastwood have moved away from Bramall Lane on loan, representing a relatively quiet summer in terms of outgoings.


Strengths

Aitor Alcalde/GettyImages

While wing backs George Baldock and Enda Stevens have offered energy and a great dynamic to Sheffield's attack, the defence built around Jack O'Connell, John Egan and Jagielka will be the team's best asset next year. 

Defending was the Blades' best form of attack last year, with a sturdiness and ability to withstand pressure a key fundamental to promotion. O'Connell and Henderson were excellent, and will need to be again this season to have any chance of staying up.

What Wilder has created is great balance in the team, which fans will hope the new signings will not disrupt. The balance and energy of the team allows Wilder to deploy a fluid 3-5-2 system, with pace on the counter a key ingredient going forward.


Weaknesses

Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

Sheffield United's struggles this season could be the step up in quality required in the heart of midfield. Oliver Norwood has been joined by Luke Freeman in the middle of the park, but a lack of top flight experience - especially against players like Kevin De Bruyne and Paul Pogba - could prove costly come the season's end.

Billy Sharp has proven just how good he is at Championship level, but he too faces a significant step up in class. His goals record would suggest he's up for the challenge, but a good start will be key if the Blades are to have any chance of staying up.

Bringing in added experience is obviously the key theme - and a distinct lack of it, Jagielka aside, could lead to a difficult season. Team spirit, fighting for the cause and one another are what Chris Wilder is all about though, so don't expect his side to go down without a fight.


Key Man

Aitor Alcalde/GettyImages

Wilder's name will be mentioned every time Sheffield United are (and rightly so), but on the pitch it is Norwood who is central to everything. While Wilder is the brains on the touchline it is Norwood who knits everything together so well, creating so much for his team mates. 

Sharp will be the focus, Jagielka will lead and Henderson is bound to catch the eye, but without Norwood, United lose so much. 

Norwood is a lot like what Aaron Mooy was to Huddersfield two years ago, and injury to the club's star midfielder could spell the end for the Blades' survival hopes.


Predictions

Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

The big if. What is certain is that next season United will not roll over, even though a tough gig lies ahead.

Staying injury free, or as to close it as possible, will be key and exiting the cup competitions early could be a blessing in disguise.

The Blades will fight tooth and nail, and will feel confident that they as good a chance of staying up as six or seven other sides. Nails will be bitten, so strap yourselves in for a rocky ride.

You May Like

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)