Lessons being learned from last season
If the early transfer dealings at Bramall Lane are anything to go by, it would appear manager Danny Wilson is keen to address the failings of last season.
With three games to go, the Blades looked set to secure the second automatic promotion spot until the loss of Ched Evans, coupled with injuries to Will Hoskins and Richard Cresswell left United desperately short of firepower.
Yet, the summer arrivals of Nick Blackman, John Cofie and Shaun Miller, as well as recent new signing Dave Kitson, means the Blades boss now has six regular strikers to choose from.
Perhaps the most pleasing of all is the balance. Power, pace, youth, experience, the direct running of Cofie and Blackman, alongside leaders such as Cresswell and Kitson are a mouthwatering mix of options.
It is something Wilson feels will help avoid a repeat of last season. He said: "It was important there was no hangover from the play-off final defeat and that we started how we have started - unbeaten. There has been some changes of personnel, which there had to be, so to get them into a winning mentality quickly was very important to us.
"There is no doubt about it, last season we were a little bit thin up front. Now we have different types of players but it's not just about having options, it's about using them. From our perspective we need to learn how to use those players. We had four strikers on the pitch at the end against Bury in the hope of trying something different and trying to force an error from their defence. I don't think we did that quite as good as we should, we were still looking to play little intricate passes instead of just putting it in there and seeing what they can do, but that will come with more games.
"Nick Blackman is one that has definitely hit the ground running. His goals per game ratio is excellent. He's been great and will get better. He's very conscientious in his work, which is great, he's a hard trainer and he puts a lot of work into his attacking play.
"He's enjoying playing football again. These lads do get frustrated when they are at big clubs and not playing and they have to look elsewhere. That's the reason why we managed to get such a good player. He has been a threat every time he's played and it's not just his goals. Against Scunthorpe he must have run about 10 marathons, yet he was criticised by certain people for not winning a header. What he did for the team warmed everybody's heart - he's an unselfish player.
"He's always wanting to create something, either for himself or someone else. He's one of those players who can create something for himself. Not all strikers can do that, some look for service from other players, so having someone like that, particularly in tight games, is a big bonus.
"The more games he plays the better he will be.
"Dave Kitson is nowhere near the fitness we need him to be but you saw when he came on against Bury what type of threat he can be. The more minutes he gets on the pitch the more clinical he will be."
Why United ARE a one-man team
IF you have listened to local radio phone-ins during recent weeks,
That man is Danny Wilson.
|Ched Evans has received all the plaudits this season. |
Picture Jon Candy: Flickr
The fact that Michael Doyle is now captain and centre half Neil Collins is one of the first names on the team-sheet speaks volumes for the job he has done. Both players were victims of the boo boys at Bramall Lane, but now play pivotal roles.
It is not just the attractive, passing football that has seen United occupy second spot for so long that is the most pleasing part of his makeup, his character in front of the microphone is a welcome breath of fresh air.
Having had the likes of Kevin Blackwell rant and rave to reporters, being far from gracious in either defeat or victory, Wilson’s refusal to get carried away with results and his ‘one game at a time approach’ has been welcomed by both fans and the media.
Even recently, with Wednesday trying mind games that rival Mancini and Vieira’s attempt to derail Man Utd’s title challenge,
has refused to be drawn into confrontation. Wilson
And it isn’t Ched Evans.