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First Team News

In Focus: Sheffield United

19 June 2021

We're taking a closer look at the six teams joining the Championship for the 2021/22 campaign ahead of fixture release day next Thursday, and this time our focus is on Sheffield United.

2020/21 season

The Blades went into the 2020/21 season still beaming from their impressive ninth-placed finish in the campaign beforehand.

It was clear from the start, though, that things were not heading the same way in their second season back in the Premier League, with Chris Wilder’s men picking up just two points from their opening 17 league matches.

Wilder’s five-year spell with the side came to an end by mutual consent in March 2021, and the club were soon relegated under caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom.

Star man

Last season was a tough one for everyone at Sheffield United, but a shining light were the performances of goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, who is currently involved in the England squad for the Euro 2020 Championships.

The shot-stopper only arrived at Bramall Lane last summer from AFC Bournemouth and had a difficult start to his time with the Blades, but as the season progressed, so did the quality of his performances.

Ramsdale played in all 38 Premier League games over the course of the campaign and he ended up with three trophies to his name after being voted the club’s Player and Young Player of the Year, and he also won the award from the Senior Blades Supporters Group.

At this stage, the goalkeeper remains a Blades player and is due to return to pre-season training following the conclusion of the Euros, but he is unsurprisingly a target for many Premier League clubs.

The gaffer

Recently appointed to take charge of the club until 2024 was manager Slavisa Jokanovic, who has previous in the Championship.

His experience of securing two promotions into the Premier League was naturally a massive draw for Sheffield United, who will of course be hoping to return to the top flight as soon as possible.

Jokanovic’s first success in the division came in 2015 as he took Watford up, before repeating the feat with Fulham three years later via the Play-Offs.

He hasn’t been in England since leaving Fulham in 2018, though, having recently been managing Al-Gharafa in Qatar.

Recent clashes

PNE and Sheffield United have been fairly regular opponents over the course of the past couple of decades, with the two meeting each other 38 times since the turn of the century.

One clash in recent memory which North End fans will have fond memories of is the visit to Bramall Lane in the FA Cup in February 2015.

A Paul Huntington header in the middle of a Paul Gallagher brace – a stunning free-kick and penalty – earned PNE a 3-1 victory, and that win came at a very important time as the side had gone five without a win, and from then on in Simon Grayson’s team went 18 games unbeaten on their way to promotion.

Sheffield United got the better of the Lilywhites in the last season the teams met, though, with the Blades winning 3-2 and 1-0 in their 2018/19 promotion-winning campaign.

Keep an eye on PNE.Com over the coming days as we continue to profile the new teams joining the Championship for the upcoming season.

 


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