Sheffield United have been one of the big success stories of this Championship season and, with seven games to go, they are assured of a playoff spot and could still bag one of the two automatic promotion spots that are up for grabs. Their success has been a real team effort and, while others around them have been splashing the cash on big name signings for the league, The Blades have quietly gone about their business, making astute signings to become a real force in the second tier.
United were promoted from League One in 2017and this will be their second season back in the Championship. Over the two seasons so far, their incomings and outgoings pretty much balance out within a few thousand pounds, which shows just what a remarkable effort everyone at the club has made to ensure the club moves forward and improves, but remains financially stable. We are not talking huge sums either here; over two years, they have spent roughly £11 million and brought in £11 million from players leaving the club to go elsewhere.
A big chunk of that £11 million coming in was from Bournemouth last summer for the move of David Brooks but United didn’t blow that money; they invested it very wisely. They signed John Egan for a club record £4 million from Brentford and spent £2 million on Oliver Norwood from Brighton, who has been a revelation, turning into one of the best midfielders in the division since joining the club. Those were the only two players they brought in for cash during the summer, despite having received £10 million just for one player. They could have gone out and spent all of that but they felt they didn’t need to, so didn’t.
Alongside Billy Sharp, who has been a long-standing member of the first eleven down at Bramall Lane, Egan and Norwood have given The Blades one of the best spines in the division, and this has played a huge part in their success. As of the 5th April, with seven league games to go, the latest Championship betting has Sheffield United at 8/13 for promotion, which shows how close they are. All of that has been done on a shoestring compared to many clubs at the top of the Championship.
Only a season ago, we saw Wolves spending big money to almost guarantee themselves promotion to the Premier League, while we have seen teams like Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough pay big money for players and they are not even in the playoffs right now.
While money talks in football, Sheffield United are a great example of a club that hasn’t spent too much compared to their league rivals but they are still managing to compete. The cherry on top for them would be promotion to the Premier League, giving their squad the chance to shine on the biggest stage of them all next season if that became a reality.