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League One: Why Sheffield United will definitely be promoted to the Championship

Wednesday 22nd March 2017
With Sheffield United's impending promotion from League One, It's Round and It's White investigates why the Blades will, no doubt, go on to win the division and claim the title

Following the sacking of former Southampton and Reading boss, Nigel Adkins in summer 2016, Sheffield United needed someone who was going to guarantee promotion for the following season after five years in League One.

With former player Chris Wilder given permission by Northampton to speak to Charlton Athletic, the Blades suddenly realised that the 49-year-old may just be the man they need for a return to the Championship after his heroics with the Cobblers in gaining promotion to League One a few weeks before.

As he's a boyhood fan, Wilder chose to move to Bramall Lane and set about transforming the side into one that's capable of promotion.

Within his first month, the former Alfreton Town and Halifax manager completed the signing of Mark Duffy on a free transfer from Birmingham City.

The fact that the winger had only just got promoted with Burton Albion whilst on loan at the Pirelli Stadium a month earlier signified how strong the Blades' squad was going to be that season.

Further additions such as midfielder John Fleck from Coventry and defender Jack O'Connell from Brentford were combined with more experience in the shape of Jake Wright - who reunited with Wilder having played under him at Oxford - and Leon Clarke.

With Sheffield United now prepared for the upcoming season, they had to get off to bright start which didn't actually occur.

They had to wait for five matches before their first victory; a 2-1 home win over Wilder's former side, Oxford.

After that result, the Blades took off. They went on a 15-game unbeaten run that lasted from August until the end of November.

From then on, they have looked seriously comfortable at the top of the table.

A back three consisting of O'Connell, Chris Basham and Wolves loanee Ethan Ebanks-Landell have been superb whilst Keiron Freeman has contributed goals from right back/wing back on eight occasions while Daniel Lafferty on the other flank has notched three.

The form of striker Billy Sharp has been so vital too. His 26 league goals and leadership on the pitch has been instrumental to Wilder's side.

Summer signings, Duffy and Fleck, have also been in top form. They have graced the Sheffield United midfield with their energy and creativity, something that has helped make the side runaway leaders.

However, the main credit must go to Wilder. With his side poised for promotion, it will be the second time in a row that the gaffer has managed to achieve this success.

His buying in the summer and January transfer window have boosted the squad in so many ways.

January signings such as forward, James Hanson from Bradford and attacking midfielder Samir Carruthers from MK Dons will be useful squad players in the Championship too.

As it stands, Sheffield United are first with a six point lead over second placed Bolton, with the likes of Millwall and Bradford to play.

Their 2-1 victory over Charlton on Saturday signified how they can still grind out results when not playing their best football.

If they do indeed get the likely promotion they deserve then look to the Blades to make an impression in the Championship.
Greg Stubley
Greg graduated with a first in Sports Journalism from the University of Brighton in Summer 2016 and has already managed to gain experience in the industry, working for companies such as Charlton Athletic and talkSPORT. Greg is currently the regular commentator on Charlton's "CAFCPlayerHD" service, bringing full-match live commentary along with Terry Smith of Addicks' games up and down the country for subscribers to listen.

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