By Harley ThorneOver the next few weeks we will be taking a look at some of the sides that we will be taking on next season in SkyBet League One, today it's the turn of Sheffield United.
Name: Sheffield United Football Club
Nickname(s): The Blades
Stadium: Bramall Lane
Distance: 172 miles from Bristol.
Last season: 11th in League One.
After recently appointing former Northampton Town man Chris Wilder as their new Manager, The Blades will be hoping that this is the season that they return to The Championship - at the fifth attempt.
It was as recently as the 2006-2007 season that Sheffield United were in the Premier League, when they finished 23rd – though their end to the season was marred with controversy.
West Ham United were the team that survived in the Premier League that season, and by the skin of their teeth at that. A winning goal from Carlos Tevez against Manchester United saved them, but also led to a three-year legal battle between the two clubs.
West Ham were found to have broken third party ownership regulations with the signings of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez, the latter playing a significant role in their survival, which ultimately sealed Sheffield United’s relegation.
Though the typical punishment for such an act would be a points deduction, the Premier League controversially opted to fine The Hammers just £5.5 million.
Heartbreaking for The Blades, who would have seen themselves remain in the Premier League if a points deduction had been applied, and they did not give up in their fight against the injustice.
It was only in 2009, three years on, when they finally came to an out of court settlement with West Ham – who paid £20m to the club in compensation. A large fee, but a fee they would no doubt pay again to remain in the Premier League!
They achieved three top-half finishes in succession in the Championship, including suffering play-off final heartbreak in 2009. But that was to be their highest finish since, as they were relegated to League One in 2011.
Five seasons have passed and still The Blades sit in the English third tier.
Unbelievably, they have made the play-offs in four of the last five seasons and have lost every time - twice at the semi-final stage, and twice in the final at Wembley.
They continued to show that their aim is promotion and nothing else though, as regardless of the respectable play-off finishes, they hired and fired four different managers – Danny Wilson, David Weir, Nigel Clough, and Chris Morgan.
Last season the club showed major intent with the appointment of Nigel Adkins – a coach respected throughout English football for the fantastic job he did at Southampton (taking them from League One to the Premier League in back-to-back promotions). It was no doubt surprising then, when Adkins led the club to its worst league finish in thirty-three years.
It has since been reported that Adkins’ side topped the League One wage bill table, supposedly breaking the £6-million mark. A high cost for failure, that no doubt played a major part in his sacking.
Though the club are backed by Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a man whose uncle is estimated to be worth around $18-billion, the appointment of Wilder is a sure sign that the club are looking for a manager who can make the most of the strong budget provided.
Wilder, a Sheffield United fan, turned down Charlton Athletic in order to take the job, and will no doubt be aiming to take his Blades side into at least a play-off finish. But with such a poor record in the play-offs, the Bramall Lane faithful will no doubt be hoping that Wilder can get the job done in the regular season.
A lot of work will need to be done behind the scenes, in a bid to stop the wage bill spiraling, and this could unsettle the playing side who so desperately need to be focused on the task at hand.
Wilder has a big challenge ahead, but perhaps his passion for the club, and experience managing with a much smaller budget, will see them challenge at the top of the table.
Purchasing your 2016/17 Season Ticket couldn’t be easier
Personal callers are welcome at Pirate Leisure at The Memorial Stadium or at The Supporters Club Shop 199 Two Mile Hill Road Kingswood, BS15 1AZ.
Alternatively Season Tickets can also be purchased over the phone by calling Pirate Leisure on 0117 909 6648 - option 1 (during office hours) or ‘199’ on 0117 961 1772 (during office hours) or online at www.brfctickets.com
Ambulant Disabled, wheelchair users and carers should contact Clare McDonagh directly, either in person or over the phone, on 0117 952 4001.