Sheffield United showing signs that perhaps all is not lost

 2 months, 8 days ago 0 Comments

It’s fair to say that most people predicted Manchester United to walk all over Sheffield United at Old Trafford in the recent fixture between the two sides. After all, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men had been on a long unbeaten run in the weeks leading up to the game and were just off the back of defeating bitter rivals Liverpool in the FA Cup.

But while United were dreaming of trophies galore coming their way at the end of the season, Chris Wilder’s men rolled into town and upset the apple cart, in a display that harked back to their fine performances last season which saw them challenge in the top half of the table before eventually finishing a respectable ninth.

They took the game to Manchester United in impressive fashion, taking a first-half lead through Kean Bryan, and although Harry Maguire drew the scores level in the second half with an impressive header, the Blades did not let their heads drop and regained the advantage through Oliver Burke’s deflected strike. It was a hard-fought and well-deserved three points for Wilder’s men, and the Sheffield United coach was quick to praise his team afterwards, but as always, his words were tempered with realism.

“There’s not been many moments for us this season,” he said. “The players are jumping about celebrating and they have every right to. It’s been a tough old season but I’ll bring them back down to earth tomorrow. It’s a great result and I’m delighted for the players because they’ve been through a lot.”

The problem for Wilder and his team is that results and performances like that have been sorely lacking this season so far. The Blades have looked limp and uninspiring throughout the campaign, and have been rooted to the foot of the Premier League table for some time, with survival at long odds in the bet exchange. But despite the 10-point gap which separates them from 17th-placed Brighton at the time of writing, there were signs at Old Trafford that all may not be lost just yet for Sheffield United.

After all, they still have the bones of the team which performed so admirably throughout last season, playing on their own terms and in their own style to deliver a fine campaign and an impressive league finish in their first season back in the top flight after gaining promotion from the Championship.

It was natural, even inevitable perhaps, that there would be a dip or decline this season, although few could have expected that to be quite so dramatic. Despite the results being so poor, there was never any real sense that Wilder’s position was in jeopardy. He has brought the club so far, given them such fantastic memories, that the Sheffield United hierarchy will always be keen to trust their man.

We’re beginning to see some of that trust repaid. The team have rallied in beating Newcastle United at Bramall Lane, and now Manchester United at Old Trafford. Confidence and momentum can make all the difference, and in this strange Premier League season, where few confident predictions can be made, wouldn’t it be fitting to see Sheffield United break free from the snare of relegation and perform one of the Premier League’s all-time greatest escapes?

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