Sheffield United 2019/20 season review: Back with a bang
(Photo by Michael Regan / Getty Images)

"Sheffield United are going down, they are not even taking the Premier League seriously" - Adrian Durham

"If you're going to have your centre backs turning up in the opposition area in the Premier League, you're to get annihilated" - Steve Nichol

"Sheffield United will struggle, their style is quite basic" - Garth Crooks

The Blades continued to defy the odds - By John Lupo

Many bookmakers favorites to go straight back to the Championship, Sheffield United confounded the experts and not only stayed up, but did so comfortably while challenging for a European spot for virtually all of the season. Billy Sharp's equaliser on the opening day of the season at AFC Bournemouth was a sign of things to come and John Lundstram gave the Blades their first victory in the top flight for 12 years when he scored the only goal of the game the next week at home to Crystal Palace.

From early October through the Christmas period, Sheffield United lost just once in 12 games, vaulting them from 13th to 6th in the table. Included in that stretch of games was a 1-0 victory over Arsenal as well as draws with Manchester United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur.

After losses to Manchester City and champions Liverpool, Chris Wilder's men went unbeaten in five, a draw with Arsenal included in that run to keep their European dreams alive.

Consecutive losses to Newcastle United and Manchester United threatened to curtail the season, but wins over Tottenham, Wolves and perhaps the signature win of the season, a 3-0 drubbing of FA Cup champions Chelsea put the Blades on the cusp of European football. Those dreams were soon dashed when the club ended the season, with losses to Leicester City, Everton and Southampton, but with a top-shelf finish as well as 54 points.

It was a season to remember at Bramall Lane.

There was success in the FA Cup as Sheffield United reached the quarterfinals. Entering in the third round, the Blades recorded a 2-1 win over AFC Fylde was followed by an easy 2-0 victory at Millwall in round four. Sharp scored in the 105th minute to give United a 2-1 victory at Reading before Arsenal took their revenge by posting a 2-1 win in the last eight.

The EFL Cup saw Wilder's men start in the second round with a 2-1 victory over Championship side Blackburn Rovers which was followed by a shock third round defeat at home to Sunderland with Max Power scoring the only goal of the game in the ninth minute.

  • Wilder bolstered the squad effectively

Coming up from the Championship changes were needed in order to bolster the squad. The Blades made up to ten signings in the summer, breaking their record transfer fee a number of times. Notable signings included, Lys Mousset, Oli McBurnie and Ben Osborn, as well as the resigning of goalkeeper Dean Henderson on a one year loan from Manchester United. 

The squad was also added too in January with notable signings being Jack Robinson and current record signing Sander Berge.

The main core of the starting eleven stayed the same from the side that earned promotion the year before, however each new signing would earn their time to shine. Oli McBurnie and Lys Mousset were the top scorers with six goals each, both players became fan favourites around Bramall Lane.

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It was a different story for players such as Ben Osborn, who were patient but their opportunity came and they seized it with both arms. Osborn was instrumental after the season restarted in the absence of John Fleck and gave Wilder a headache in terms of midfield selection.

  • Sheffield United made their mark early on

Coming up from the Championship is always going to be a challenge, especially when the squad has not got much Premier League experience. It is important to hit the ground running and that is exactly what the Blades did. 

It was their first time going up against one of the "top six" in the Premier League when their presence was felt however. It was late on in August the Blades were 2-0 down away at Chelsea at half time. However a goal from new signing Callum Robinson early in the second half gave the Blades hope. Henderson kept the visitors in the game with a superb reflex save to deny Tammy Abraham his hat trick.

The Blades found a equaliser late on however when Kurt Zouma directed Robinson's cross into the back of his own net, sending the travelling Blades fans into euphoria.

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This was a statement from the Blades that they were not in the league just to make up the numbers, it laid down the benchmark down for the season.

They used this as a springboard to go unbeaten away from home until the 29th of December. Not bad for newly promoted side.
 

  • Player of the season

You could pick any of the players in Sheffield United's squad and you would have a good argument to why they should be player of the season. Every single player has exceeded expectations but Chris Basham, Mr Sheffield United, has been crucial all season long.

The right overlapping centre back, is Sheffield United's longest serving player after joining on a free from Blackpool six years ago, he has been through the lowest of lows with the club and is now enjoying the high points. From working at McDonalds to playing in the Premier League, it has been some journey for Basham.

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He is the most consistent player at the club and never backs down from a challenge, he will always give 110% and is a certain fan favourite around Bramall Lane.

He possesses genuine quality, he can weave his way out of tight areas and is one of the reasons Sheffield United have conceded the least goals in a season by a newly promoted team in Premier League history. His tenacity, determination and reading of the game is second to none and was simply superb over the course of the season.

  • Inconsistency for Blades in Project Restart

When the Premier League season was suspended Sheffield United sat in sixth place but inconsistent performances cost the Blades a European place for the first time in the clubs history. They kicked off project restart against Aston Villa at Villa Park with a goalless draw but the talking point was that Oliver Norwood's free kick had clearly crossed the line, but Hawkeye had not detected it and VAR did not intervene.

This draw was followed by three consecutive defeats including a 2-1 defeat at Bramall Lane in the FA Cup quarter final. The Blades got back to winning ways in fine fashion with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Spurs with Sander Berge scoring his first goal for the club. This was followed by a draw away to Burnley, then two massive wins at Bramall Lane. Firstly John Egan's last minute header against Wolves securing all three points then a outstanding 3-0 victory against Chelsea with David McGoldrick scoring his first two goals of the season.

The squad suffered with injuries in project restart but this gave the opportunity to fringe players to prove themselves. Ben Osborn who had been playing back up to wing back Enda Stevens all year was shifted into centre midfield and produced several world class performances.

With the Blades now in poll position to kick on and secure a European spot they stumbled at the final hurdle, losing the remaining three games of the season finishing in ninth place.

It was still a spectacular season for the newly promoted side but it could of been a season ending with the miracle of European football being played at Bramall Lane next season. However it will still go down as a truly historic season for Sheffield United football club.

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