We have a look at our first opponents of the season and possible promotion rivals.
We spoke to Sheffield United fan Callum Cheswick to get a lowdown on the Blades and their hopes for the season.
Take us through your summer? Are you happy with Chris Wilder’s appointment?
Well it’s been a good summer for the Blades in my own opinion and I’m sure there will be many Blades who agree with that statement. After a poor season last campaign, our worst since the 1982/83 season, we parted company with Nigel Adkins. With what looked to be the best appointment the club could’ve made on paper last season in terms with getting out of League One he failed, just like his three predecessors before him.
To some the sacking was a little bit of a shock, especially after chairman Kevin McCabe reiterating at the time of Adkins arrival that the former Southampton boss would have more than the average one year tenure that most managers have had when coming to Bramall Lane. However after a season like last and the minimal patience shown by the Blades board you could see the sacking coming.
So after coming to grips with the departure of Nigel Adkins on 12th May, within six hours and fifteen minutes Chris Wilder had been appointed as the new gaffer, which for the Red and White Wizards is lightning speed for an appointment at the Lane. As for if i’m happy with Wilder coming in it is far too early to say. However so far he is doing all the right things to win United fans like myself over. As a born and bred Blade at heart he already has us on his side. He is also doing nothing what managers before him in this division had done and that is sign the better players from clubs in this division and not old players who are past there best and looking for a big final payday, such as Dean Hammond under Nigel Adkins last season.
The signing of Mark Duffy who was in the Sky Bet League One team of the year last season on a free transfer could prove to be a shrewd bit of business. Chris Hussey, a nominal fee it was described, got nine assists from left back last season, and he really can whip a great cross into the box. Jack O’Connell, another signing of Wilder’s, after needing at least two centre halves for the past two seasons the former Northampton boss has brought in three this summer. O’Connell is a very strong defender, a leader from the back, he’s prepared to put his head on the line and is at a great age to try and take every inch of his potential and make him an exceptional defender he can easily become. John Fleck is another great signing by Wilder on a free transfer. A small central midfielder but for what he lacks in height he more than makes up for that in his determination and fight. In a friendly against Derby the Scot was exceptional and ran things for the Blades through the centre. A couple more signings he has made also look a good fit for United so on that front alone it is looking good for Wilder.
On the playing front I think we need to wait and see but it is looking good for Wilder for the upcoming season and he also seems optimistic about the Blades chances this season
What should we expect from you on Saturday in terms of tactics?
I expect Wilder to play a solid 4-4-2. Long in goal, from right to left in defence Brayford, Wilson, O’Connell, Hussey, in the midfield Duffy, Basham, Fleck, Done, and up top for the Blades Sharp and McNulty.
With the signings made by Wilder in respect to the more pacey defenders signed by the Sheffielder I see us playing a high line and not sitting too deep. Going up the pitch I believe there will be non stop running by the two central midfielders. The two wingers who I expect to be new signing Mark Duffy and Matt Done will keep changing flanks and I believe that Done will also take the place of a striker throughout the game with Marc McNulty being the more likely figure to drop to the wing.
Wilder has also spoke about playing a high pressing game so going by that Bolton’s defence should have a torrid time with the ball.
Which Blades player above all should we be looking out for?
John Fleck. He will be the main man to get the Blades attacks moving and does need cutting off to stop the Blades attacks, the boy does have an incredible eye for a pass and has very nimble footwork. If he does get cut off then the Blades will have to look towards either flank to become creator for Billy Sharp and Marc McNulty.
If this does become the case then the full backs Chris Hussey and John Brayford will become instrumental to the Blades attacks. The pair are known for their prowess down the wings, Brayford loves to gallop forward and aid the wing man in front of him on the overlap, Hussey can put in a great cross from a corner or in play and also takes a vicious free kick so the wings will also play a major role in United’s game.
What are your hopes for the season?
I think it has to be promotion. For a football club of our size and stature we do need to get out of this division as soon as possible. I understand that us being Sheffield United doesn’t mean that we’re just going to get promoted because we’re Sheffield United, football doesn’t work like that.
After five previous attempts at getting out of this division we are hoping that a Blade in Chris Wilder can get us out of League One at the sixth time of asking. To me and probably the majority of Sheffield United supporters don’t really care as to how we get out of the division, whether that be automatic promotion or via the play offs, as long as it isn’t relegation.
And can we have a prediction (and score) for Saturday?
I think for the first ten to fifteen minutes it will be a closely contested affair but I reckon Billy Sharp will bag within the opening 25 minutes. Then in the last ten or so minutes I think Leon Clarke will make it two for the Blades. Bolton 0 – 2 Sheffield United.