Huddersfield Town surprised many last season under the management of David Wagner as they secured promotion to the Premier League via the playoffs but who could be the next surprise package in The Championship? Sheffield United have made a superb start to their 2017/18 campaign and look like they could be outsiders for the playoffs.
Tremendous success under the management of Chris Wilder
The 49-year-old manager has been a Sheffield United fan for his entire life and took over at the helm at the beginning of last season. However, no-one would have predicted the incredible success that has come since then. He ended the club’s six-year absence from The Championship by winning the League One title last season, and they have carried their winning mentality into the early stages of this campaign.
Many sides in the past have secured quick back-to-back promotions straight to the Premier League such as Norwich City, Southampton and AFC Bournemouth in recent years. Both Southampton and Bournemouth have since gone on to consolidate their place in the top flight and do not look like giving up their position anytime soon. This is, without doubt, the sort of success that Blades fans will be dreaming of and under the management of Wilder, anything is possible.
A superb start to the season
Remarkably, United currently sit third in the league, just two points off league leaders Leeds United, after a tremendous start to the season. They have won five of their opening seven matches, losing just twice. Their two defeats came against Middlesbrough, and Cardiff City who have themselves had solid starts to the season, so there was certainly no shame in defeat for Wilder’s side. If they can keep this sort of form up for the entirety of the season, then there is no reason to suggest why the Blades cannot be up there challenging for promotion come next May.
They have some exciting matches coming up that could certainly test their credentials. They face Norwich City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Bramall Lane, two sides with promotion aspirations of their own as well as two trips to local rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest. The trip to Hillsborough will certainly be an exciting encounter considering how long supporters of both sides have been waiting for the ‘Steel City’ derby.
A good transfer window has strengthened squad
It is imperative that any team promoted from League One improves their squad as there is certainly a gulf in quality between the two divisions. Many sides such as Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United failed to improve their squad adequately and have since been relegated back down to the third tier. However, this does not seem to be a mistake that Sheffield United have made as they have signed some quality players this summer.
The likes of George Baldock, Clayton Donaldson, Ben Heneghan, John Lundstram, Richard Stearman and others have all arrived at Bramall Lane this summer, and all add something to Wilder’s squad. The addition of 33-year-old striker Donaldson from Championship rivals Birmingham City appears to be a very astute addition as he scored a brace on his debut for the club away at Sunderland. He looks to be the ideal strike partner for Billy Sharp who will be able to feed off his hold up play.