Season Preview: Sheffield United

Last updated : 06 August 2005 By Paul Holland
How did you fare last season?
Not very well, the Blades should have aimed for the play-offs and with the squad that Neil Warnock had assembled this aim should have been achieved.

How do you expect you'll do this season?
Again, play-offs! Idealy like every club would be to go up as Champions but even United fans have to be realistic and face the facts that we never do anything the easy way so if we do realise our dream and hit the big time then it will have to be via the back door.

What have you done on the transfer market this summer? Which of your new signings are you expecting most from?
Mr Warnock has made no less than eight signings ahead of the new 2005/06 seasons campaign and has spent 1.3 million. If Danny Webber continues his blistering form like he did at the back end of last season whilst on loan then I would tip this young superstar to finish as top goalscorer. However lets not forget the £850k capture of Paul Ifill. The winger is probably United’s biggest signing this summer and looked very impressive during the 1-0 home win over Sunderland in a friendly. Lilian Nalis will also be one to watch. His experience will add a lot to the midfield.

Where do you think you'll need to strengthen in the January transfer window?
United need backup in the defence right now! The centre-backs are the main cause for concern. Now that Cullip has joined Forest, that leaves Morgan, Jagielka, Short and Bromby as cover for that position. Should an injury occur then quick cover from the reserves or on loan would have to be implicated.

Have you any promising youngsters breaking into the team?
Jonathan Forte is one to look out for whilst Defender Evan Horwood has just been sent out on loan to Stockport County, he could turn out to be a promising player. Also there is Billy Sharp who scored 7 goals at the back end of last season whilst on loan at Rushden. United certainly have a force when it comes down to their academy.

Have you got the right man in charge of the team? Will he still be there at the end of the season?
Defiantly, I could not imagine a Sheffield United team without Neil Warnock and Stuart McCall; the two are 'geniuses' and see no reason why they won’t be there come May.

Is the club being run well? Are you likely to be singing 'Sack the board' any time soon?
The club has moved a long way since Adrian Heath left the club in disarray in November 1999 and things have changed for the better since Mike McDonald left the board. An Academy has probably been the clubs most beneficial facture in the re-shaping of the club whilst the plans to increase the capacity of Bramall Lane to 36,000 by the end of this season shows that the club plan their future in the Premier League.

Which team do you most want to beat and why?
Wednesday, without a shadow of a doubt! It was nice completing a major double over Leeds United last season, but this is the olde enemy from down the road, why wouldn’t we want to beat them?

Who do you think's going up?
I say this every season but Wolves seriously have to be considered as one of the favourites whilst Ipswich has dropped out after selling Kuqi and Bent. Out of the Premiership I believe Southampton will struggle but Palace should do the better out of the three that went down.
Going automatic I see Wolves and Palace doing the business whilst Sheffield United, Leeds (if they get it right) or Norwich have to be taken seriously.

Who do you think's going down?
Millwall are my hot tip for relegation. They have sold what few good players they had as well as seen their chairman leave and manager Steve Claridge appointed as manager only to be sacked 36 days later. Their only saving grace is Colin Lee who did a superb job at Walsall, he might just be able to bring in cheap but decent players who can keep them up. Also penned in for the drop I would tip Brighton and Watford.

How do you reckon Hull City will fare in the Championship?
I reckon Hull will do all right. They should fare best of the three that went up (Hull, Luton and Wednesday). Though they have a good manager, I can not see them pulling up any trees but would be shocked to see them anywhere near bottom come May. A mid-table finish beckons for the Tigers.

Paul Holland is editor of Blades Mad.