Sheffield United defied the odds and in their first season back the Blades were probably the biggest overachievers. Tipped for immediate relegation, Wilder’s men quickly showed everyone they don’t plan to keep up with the script. Away form proved decisive for the high finish, with the first away league defeat not coming until after Christmas in round 20! Qualification for Europe was not achieved mainly due to the fact that the manager and his players failed to cope with the COVID-break well and results in June and July declined (W3 D2 L5).
Using the wing-backs to great effect and being very solid defensively proved the main strengths for United this season. Individually many players performed better than expected, with Fleck, Lundstram and goalkeeper Henderson probably the biggest overachievers in terms of their personal limitations as footballers.
The main weakness was the forward line where none of the 5 strikers had very good campaigns. Their record summer signing McBurnie scored just 6 league goals. McGoldrick didn’t score until round 35 in July and the captain Sharp had only 3 goals, with Mousset and Clarke not doing much better.
Coach Wilder deserves praise for being able to extract the maximum from his players, but also for his great move in January to sign playmaker Berge. The young Norwegian was crucial in the second part of the season and he will only improve.
Sheffield will struggle to repeat this performance in their second season in the Premier League. Without luck in terms of keeping the important players healthy and at least 2-3 major new signings, the Blades might even find themselves in a relegation struggle in 2020/21.