It’s hard to imagine that Brammall Lane giants Sheffield United were top flight competitors a mere 8 years ago. The departure of several instrumental names in the Blades has led to their demise, but with Nigel Adkins now overseeing events in Sheffield, the bright line and promise lands may just be around the corner once again.
Many big names have come and gone in recent years in the ‘steel city’. Stopper Steve Simonson skied the pivotal penalty in the Blades Wembley final of 2012, ultimately resulting in his departure. Marlon King made 8 appearances in the Red and white stripes, while Michael Higdon is yet to make a significant contribution at Brammall Lane.
The average age of this season’s squad has been reduced significantly to just 25. The emergence of Che Adams and Louis Reed has given the Blades faithful a reinvigorated feeling in recent months. England under-20 international Adams ceased a recent baron patch last weekend by netting for the first time since his brace against local rivers Chesterfield in the opening home game of the season. The 19-year-old’s versatility makes him an integral cog in the Sheffield United machine. His upheaval in form gives him all the chance to strive for the coveted 20 goal mark, Adkins obviously has confidence in the youngster saying, ‘We’ve got high hopes for Che and he’s shown he can be a big player for us”.
No matter how successful a club has been cracks will always appear. In the case, the goalkeeping position is a considerable headache. After speaking extensively with long time Blades fan Gordon Kind it was apparent to me that many of the goals conceded this campaign could be put down to goalkeeping errors. Lewis Alessandra’s second strike for Rochdale should have been a simple near post save for Mark Howard, but with the game in the balance, Howard flapped at the former Plymouth mans tame effort enabling Dale to restore parity. George Long slipped into the abyss of English football by shooting off on loan to Scottish side Motherwell last term, but looks set to make a somewhat
unexpected return to the line-up with Howard’s form on the decline.
Regardless of the amount of goals leaked at the back, scoring more than the opponent will always be a fundamental in football. The attacking master class against promotion contenders Rochdale certainly suggests they are on the cusp of a decent run of form. The upcoming fixtures also make good reading for Nigel Adkins’ side. They face three of the bottom four in the coming weeks (Oldham, Fleetwood, and Crewe). Stringing together a consistent batch of positive results could be all that is needed to boost them into the play-off places and beyond. Maybe even a magical Championship return.