There is only one trophy Sheffield United boss Nigel Adkins will be aiming for this season. The Blades are firm favourites for the title and you would not put it past Adkins to repeat the feat that he achieved with Southampton in 2010/11.
Nigel Clough’s dismissal at the end of last season was met with mixed reaction from Blades supporters. Many fans believed the former Derby man had the credentials to reunite Bramall Lane with second tier football. Although many opinions may have changed with the appointment of the former top flight manager. Adkins has a scintillatign reputation for helping teams escape the depths of League One, and has done so with Southampton and Scunthorpe United. He went one step further with the Saints in 2011/12 to bring Premier League football back to St Mary’s for the first time in 2005.
There is no doubt that last seasons 5th placed finish will have to be improved on, and play-off heartbreak will not be an option. Automatic promotion is the only target. To give his side the best chances of a second tier return, the Championship trio of Connor Sammon, Billy Sharp and Martyn Woolford has been drafted in. Scoring goals was an underlying problem at Bramall Lane under Clough, Scottish forwards Jamie Murphy and Marc McNulty were the only two players to scratch into double figures. The Championship theme continues with the addition of Sammon, who most recently played for Derby. He arrives on a seasons long loan after falling down the pecking order at the iPro. He will add a physical dimension to the frontline which has been vacant in the past few seasons. Both Murphy and McNulty were more than happy to run themselves ragged, but when it came to being faced in a battle of strength with a defender, more often than not, they lost.
The key to getting the season off to a quick start will be Adkins finding his best eleven. With so many top quality players hanging around the club alongside youngsters ready to make their mark, Adkins may be left with a tough dilemma. The hardest decision to be made will be at the heart of the defence. Craig Alcock ended the season at centre half with the ever present Jay McEveley. The former Peterborough man is naturally a right-back but his favoured position is under threat with John Brayford returning from injury and Kieran Freeman also patiently waiting for an opportunity. One name that is unlikely to be in the fray for a place is youngster Harrison McGahey. Last summers arrival from Blackpool began last season in great shape, playing the full 90 minutes in the Blades opening 9 games. He was soon demoted to the bench after some shaky performances, but at 19 years of age, he has plenty of time to make that position his own.
With all the polished diamonds shinning amongst the Blades squad, i can see nothing but what has been suggested. Connor Sammon and the returning Billy Sharp are bound to add goals. As long as the service is their from wide areas, the two former Championship men should have no trouble breaking the 20 goal mark. Paul Coutts affixes a sturdiness into midfield that may have been missing with lean 18-year-old Louis Reed. Finding someone to run the engine room alongside Coutts may be the only position to be strengthened within the squad. So long as Adkins is able to get his ideas across the Blades should have no trouble slicing through the opposition.