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The Super Blades- A Sheffield United Story

Started on 26 June 2014 by TheNortherner / First Post
Latest Reply on 8 July 2014 by Zed / Last Post
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Trouble at the Lane


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In shock news, we are hearing from our South Yorkshire sources that the respected manager Nigel Clough has stepped down from his role as manager of Skybet League 1 team Sheffield United in a move that will surely rock the fans and players of one of the pre season promotion favourites as The Blades aim to return to the second tier of English football after a simply abysmal few years at Bramall Lane. Shortly, we will be bringing you the Skybet odds on the man to take over from Clough- surely a quick appointment is needed at the club?
looking good!

Sheffield United Manager- The Contenders


In a brief press conference today, Sheffield United's owner Abdullah bin Mossad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud outlined the ideal criteria for his club's new manager...

Chairman-"We are very disappointed that Mr Clough has decided that he had to step down from the role as manager of Sheffield United but we couldn't refuse his resignation as it would not be healthy to have a manager at the club who didn't want to be here. So we have begun the hunt for a new leader of the club. The man we appoint will, ideally, have extensive playing experience in England through many leagues so has knowledge of how a football club can successfully be run. Secondly, we want a young, hungry manager- the man we appoint will not necessarily have any previous managerial experience. Finally, he must be confident in his ability to take the club back to the Skybet Championship within two seasons. We will back our man with a healthy transfer budget, so we will expect progress at the club and we would also like him to be able to maintain a positive atmosphere around the club. That is all for now. We will speak to you again when we have appointed Mr Clough's successor."

So there we have it, thank you Mr Al Saud. So who are the names linked with the newly vacant role at Brammal Lane? We have heard the criteria that the ownership at Sheffield United are after, and the immediate favourite for the job is ex-Manchester United star Bryan Robson, who is currently sitting as favourite at 7/1. Closely following him are ex professionals Danny Mills and Matt Holland, who are both sitting at 9/1. There are many other names that Skybet are offering on the market, and these are-
Brian McBride- 10/1
Brian Deane- 10/1
David Unsworth- 16/1
Nigel Worthington- 20/1
Steve Claridge- 25/1
Andy Cole- 25/1

So who will be the manager? Stay tuned to Sky Sports News- we will bring you the news as soon as we have it.

BREAKING NEWS- APPOINTMENT MADE


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Sheffield United have today made their appointment for the vacant manager's role, and we go live now over to Bramall Lane for the unveiling press conference...

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Chairman- "I invite you all here today to unveil our new manager, Mr Steve Claridge. Steve fits the criteria of having been around the football league for a long time and has played under many managers and in different environments, both of which we believe will stand him in good stead as he takes this next step into management. We will back him with a transfer budget and allow him to play football how he wants as he bids to take this fine football club back into the second tier. I will now hand over to Steve, who will say a few words before we let him get down to business. Thank you."

S. Claridge- "I am grateful to be given the chance to manage at this club, a club who should never have found themselves in the third tier- fear not, United fans, I will strive to do everything I can to take this team back to where it belongs. I already have ideas of players I want to bring in and areas I would like to strengthen, although I will, obviously, give all players a chance to show me what they can do for the club. I hope the next time I speak to you, it will be before the first game of the season after a fruitful and successful pre season. Thanks for your welcome, wish us luck!"

Pre Season Results


Pre season was a good one for Sheffield United and, arguably more importantly, Steve Claridge, the man in his first managerial job. His predecessor had lined up fixtures against Carrick, Airdrie, Middlesbrough and Premier League giants Liverpool. These fixtures brought two wins, a draw and a loss. I'm sure you can guess who the loss was against. Yes, correct, Middlesbrough. A simply shocking display led to a 4-1 home defeat against the side from the North East with winger Ryan Flynn scoring the only Blades' goal of the game. Against Carrick, United had a strong 4-0 victory with the goals coming from Flynn, Jose Baxter with two and new signing- more of these later- Keith Treacy bagging the fourth. The game away to Airdrie brought the draw with Stevie May scoring both goals on his first appearance for the Blades, an appearance which saw him come off the bench. So, the eagle eyed ones amongst those reading this will notice that the law of deductions will leave the match against Liverpool returning a 1-0 victory for Sheffield, with an all out 'they shall not pass' defensive formation and outlook for 90 minutes, with a Lucas Leiva own goal being the difference between the two teams.

Transfers


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Steve Claridge's first transfer window saw him bring in five new faces to Bramall Lane, although one of them will only arrive in January after being loaned back to the selling club to get another half season under his belt.

The first man in, after recommendation from Claridge's newly appointed captain Harry Maguire, was Burnley's out of favour winger Keith Treacy. He was brought in on a loan deal for the season, with the possibility of buying in the future for £200k. First choice winger, and he was given the number 4 shirt at his new club.

The next man in was Scottish striker Stevie May. The 20 year old striker came in from St Johnstone for £200k after Claridge was alerted by his record the previous season of 25 goals in 35 matches for Hamilton in the Scottish second tier. As he is a young player, Claridge felt that £200k was good value for money for a player who would hopefully develop as the club went further. First choice striker instantly- could change depending on form.

The third new face at Bramall Lane was highly rated Nottingham Forest centre half Jamaal Lascelles, who arrived on a season loan. The club attempted to get a future fee in the loan deal, but Forest weren't having any of it. Nevertheless, the club hope that he will be a great asset to the Sheffield United this season as they bid for promotion. He will compete with Harry Maguire, Neil Collins and Sean McGinty for one of the centre half berths, of which there will normally be two but, on occasion, three.

The fourth man to join the Blades was Paul McKenna, who joined just after the season's start after Claridge realised that he may need an experienced head as back up to the young central midfielders the club had. A free transfer and on low wages, he won't be featuring too much, but he will be used to help keep things tight in big games and to help close out results.

The fifth man, and the player who was loaned back to the selling club, into Sheffield was Portmouth's young prospect Jed Wallace, who the scouts say could be a good Championship player in the future and who could provide a bit of competition on the right flank, as well as being a figure in central midfield. Hot prospect.

No members of the first team squad left the club this summer, but many reserve team players were loaned out.

August


Before the season started, Sheffield United revealed their new kits along with new shirt sponsors and manufacturers- airline jet2 and German sportswear giants Adidas respectively. These are the efforts they came up with...

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So, as is customary in these stories, it's time to look at the results this month. After a mixed bag of a pre season, the real business could now begin...

Game 1- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 2-2 Notts County; Jose Baxter, OG
Game 2- Capital One Cup R1; Sheffield United 1-0 Bury; OG
Game 3- Skybet League 1; Brentford 1-3 Sheffield United; OG, Stevie May, Jamie Murphy
Game 4- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 2-1 Colchester; Jose Baxter, Ryan Flynn
Game 5- Skybet League 1; Bradford 1-4 Sheffield United; Stevie May (2), Ryan Flynn (2)
Game 6- Capital One Cup R2; Leicester City 0-1 Sheffield United; Billy Paynter
Game 7- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 4-1 MK Dons; Stevie May (3), Ryan Flynn

A superb first month in management for ex-pundit Steve Claridge sees Sheffield United finish August in top spot of Skybet League 1 without a loss in the first five games of the season with four wins and a draw- it should have been five but Notts County got two late goals on the opening day, a result which saw a change in tactics at Sheffield United. Claridge has already got a reputation amongst the media as a tinkerman, having employed three different formations in the games so far, including the defensive formation which worked against Liverpool in pre season and worked once more away to Leicester in the League Cup to see the Blades progress to the third round.

New signing Stevie May has had a splendid start to life in Yorkshire as he netted six times in the league in the first month of the season. Ryan Flynn has also started the season very well, bagging a few goals for the team which helped him to earn the league's player of the month award, which was half of a player/manager double as Claridge won the manager of the month award- not a bad start for a novice!
Some very good kits there, I like them a lot! And a really good, unbeaten, first month as Sheffield manager! Good luck this season!
2014-06-26 22:04#181688 ASR-PSV : Some very good kits there, I like them a lot! And a really good, unbeaten, first month as Sheffield manager! Good luck this season!

thanks very much!! if you want any making or anything in the future, let me know and i'll give it a go! and thanks, it's starting out really enjoyable!

September


Another month, another month which sees Sheffield United sitting top of the pile after another impressive month with matches against some of the Blades' promotion rivals...

Game 8- Skybet League 1; Rotherham 1-0 Sheffield United
Game 9- Skybet League 1; Carlisle 2-4 Sheffield United; OG, Stevie May (3)
Game 10- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 5-1 Preston North End; Jose Baxter (3), Ryan Flynn, Marcus Tudgay
Game 11- Capital One Cup R3; Southampton 2-1 Sheffield United; Ryan Flynn
Game 12- Skybet League 1; Wolves 2-2 Sheffield United; Jose Baxter, Jamie Murphy

So the unbeaten start came to an end when trash talking Steve Evans' Rotherham side beat Sheffield United 1-0 in what was an even game where I can't say we deserved to lose. However, what followed was promising, with Stevie May playing the role of super sub to great effect against Carlise as, after going into half time 2-1 down, he went to town against the Cumbrians' defence to ensure we stayed top- the only reason he started on the bench was because he was on Scotland under 21 duty during the Rotherham match and returned a bit tired. However, due to the success of him coming off the bench, Claridge made the bold decision to leave him there when Preston came to town and, despite the fact he didnt score, his replacement Marcus Tudgay- himself brought in on loan on deadline day after an injury to Billy Paynter saw him ruled out until January- led the line superbly, getting two assists and a goal in the emphatic victory. Jose Baxter is proving to be a revelation in the shadow striker role where he slots in behind the main striker in the 4-4-1-1 formation that Claridge employs, although against the bigger teams- Southampton this month, as well as Wolves- he misses out as a straight 4-5-1 is played. The Wolves game was an engaging one as we twice came from behind to leave Molineux with a hard fought draw. We still sit top with, unsurprisingly, the highest goals scored and the nearest rivals are Rotherham, Swindon and Crawley who are all sitting two points behind United on 18 points.

A couple of loan deals were sealed at the very end of August/mid September when the loan window re-opened; as previously said, Tudgay came in on a loan until the end of the season after fellow loan forward Paynter got injured, while Millwall's full back Alan Dunne was brought in on a three month loan till January to temporarily fill in for John Brayford who picked up an injury keeping him out for anywhere between four and six weeks.

All in all, a second superb month in what is proving to be an enjoyable save. The next update shall be tomorrow- let's hope October is as successful for Steve Claridge & co!

October


Third month on the job for Steve Claridge, and he must be wondering why so many managers mention the stress the job can give a man and about how difficult it is to keep the players, the fans and the ownership happy as Sheffield United end October- you guessed it- at number 1 in the Skybet League 1. While it wasn't a perfect month, the tactical tinkerman has sprung a few selection surprises to keep the Blades in the hunt for promotion...

Game 13- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 1-1 Crawley Town; Stevie May
Game 14- Johnstone's Paint Trophy R1; York 0-2 Sheffield United; Stevie May, Jose Baxter
Game 15- Skybet League 1; Coventry 1-0 Sheffield United
Game 16- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 4-1 Port Vale; Stevie May (2), Jose Baxter (2)
Game 17- Skybet League 1; Peterborough 1-1 Sheffield United; Stevie May
Game 18- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 4-0 Crewe Alexandra; Neil Collins (2), Jose Baxter, Marcus Tudgay

Goals, yet again, seem easy to come by for Sheffield United and Stevie May in particular, with him leading the Skybet League 1 goalscoring charts with thirteen goals from eleven matches- a good return by anyone's statistics- and he is proving to be an absolute bargain after being bought in the summer for in the region of £200k. This month, like previous ones, he hasn't started every game as, at his age, he hasn't got the stamina for 90 minutes in every game, but he came off the bench to great effect against Sheffield United, York and Peterborough, the latter of which was a hard result to take after dominating (20 shots, 12 on target) before taking the lead on 63 minutes only for an 83rd minute penalty for Peterborough to relegate United to second in the league, albeit only temporarily as the emphatic victory over Crewe returned us back to top spot. A superb result was capped off with stand in captain Neil Collins bagging two surprise goals, along with Marcus Tudgay justifying his occasional starting role with another goal while on loan from Nottingham Forest.

In transfer news, the Blades sold three transfer clauses- two relating to Kyle Naughton and one Nick Blackman- to boost the club coffers, leaving Steve Claridge with £810k for the fast approaching January transfer window were he to deem recruitments necessary.

Roll on November!
Good content here. :-)

Claridge hits the headlines


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After three months in charge of Sheffield United, Steve Claridge really has got his team playing well!

November


The third month of Steve Claridge's reign sees what was a six point gap at the top of the table closed to two after a poor end to the month but, nevertheless, Sheffield United are still leading the charge for promotion...

Game 19- Skybet League 1; Shrewsbury 1-1 Sheffield United; Jose Baxter
Game 20- FA Cup R1; Sheffield United 2-1 Chester; Billy Paynter, Jamie Murphy
Game 21- Johnstone's Paint Trophy R2; Sheffield United 3-0 Accrington Stanley; Neill Collins, Ryan Flynn, Jose Baxter
Game 22- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 1-0 Gillingham; Marcus Tudgay
Game 23- Skybet League 1; Bristol City 0-7 Sheffield United; Jose Baxter (2), Stevie May (3), Harry Maguire, Marcus Tudgay
Game 24- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 0-2 Walsall
Game 25- Skybet League 1; Leyton Orient 1-1 Sheffield United; Stevie May

Stevie May continued to impress this month with another handful of goals to add to his lengthy collection so far. Billy Paynter made his comeback from injury in the hard fought cup tie against Skrill Premier side Chester, where we needed an 87th minute winner to complete the comeback after going a goal down in the first half. The Accrington game was the second potential banana skin against lower league opposition but this one was far more straightforward as an easy victory was recorded. Without a shadow of a doubt, the best result was the comprehensive 7-0 away battering of Bristol City, where everything went as well as could be expected. The same, however, can't be said about the next game when an appalling performance led to a 2-0 home defeat to Walsall. May got a late equaliser in the last game of the month to leave the Blades with a two point cushion ahead of Walsall in second, and a further four points ahead of Brentford in third.

Now we are getting through the season, each month I will bring you a bit of an update on how the men in each position are doing. This month, the goalkeepers and defence...

The Defence


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For any team who wants to win football matches, a solid defence is necessary, and it seems that Steve Claridge has this at his disposal...

GK- George Long 21 apps, 21 conc, 5 clean sheets, 7.04

Tipped by the club's staff as to having the potential to be a handy Premier League goalkeeper in the future, he is a very solid League 1 goalkeeper at the moment and is a very valuable assett to have at the club. A regular England under 21 squad member, he is first choice keeper.

GK- Mark Howard 4 apps, 2 conc, 2 clean sheets, 7.05

Back up to Long, he has featured in some of the cup matches as well as the matches the first choice goalkeeper has been on international duty. A seemingly dependable deputy to Long, he doesn't complain about not being first choice and, touch wood, he will continue not to.

RB- John Brayford (loan from Cardiff City) 20 apps, 0 goals, 1 assist, 7.04

In on loan from Cardiff City, Brayford missed a month or so of the season due to injury but he came back to great effect and helped the club to consolidate their place at the top of the league. In an ideal world, he will stay at the club long term, but I doubt he will want to as he is far too good for this level. Nevertheless, he is the first choice at right full back.

CB- Harry Maguire (C) 22 (1) apps, 1 goal, 1 assist, 6.97

One of Claridge's first moves as manager was to appoint the homegrown centre half Maguire as the club captain, partially as a bid to keep him at the club and, secondly, as he is a nailed on starter and would hopefully lead by example. He has performed solidly and, although he is agitating for a move to a bigger club, the promise of promotion will hopefully keep him at Bramall Lane. First choice centre half, could be the cornerstone of a Sheffield United team for well over a decade if he progresses like he should.

CB- Jamaal Lascelles (loan from Nottingham Forest) 17 (4) apps, 0 goals, 2 assists, 7.01

A solid performer, he was initially brought in as competition for Maguire and Collins, but he has performed so consistently that he is now the first choice partner for the former and they have formed a rather dependable pairing. Another loan signing who I would have liked to keep longer term, it remains to be seen whether that is a possibility. A player with big potential but very good at League 1 level as it stands.

CB- Neill Collins 16 (3) apps, 3 goals, 0 assists, 7.08

The third good quality centre half at the club, Collins is an old head who is very dependable and solid and filled in well when Lascelles had to cover for Brayford at right back. Chips in with a few goals here and there, I would be confident with him pairing Maguire if Lascelles were to leave the club. Solid.

LB- Bob Harris 25 apps, 0 goals, 6 assists, 7.16

A very good start to the season for the only recognised left back at the club, Harris has started every game this season, partially due to the lack of no second left back, but he has performed admirably in the role and, like all good full backs, he gets forward enough to get some assists. In January, I will look to bring in some back up as I feel he may get a bit jaded were he to continue playing every game, but I'm very happy with him as the main left back at the club.

Sean McGinty is the last defender to have featured this season, but due to the form of the other defenders, he has only made four substitute appearances. He also got injured in training before the start of the season thus hindering his ability to get some early appearances under his belt. May or may not feature later in the season and, if not, he may find himself loaned out.

December


So at the turn of the year, Steve Claridge's Sheffield United team are still sitting pretty in 1st place in the third tier...

Game 26- FA Cup R2; Sheffield United 4-1 Brentford; Jamie Murphy (2), Keith Treacy (2)
Game 27- Johnstone's Paint Trophy R3; Sheffield United 2-0 Morecambe; Marcus Tudgay, Jose Baxter
Game 28- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 1-1 Swindon Town; Stevie May
Game 29- Skybet League 1; Stevenage 0-2 Sheffield United; Stevie May, Jose Baxter
Game 30- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 1-0 Tranmere; Jose Baxter

An unbeaten month for the Blades in a December which, surprisingly, only provided us with five matches. Nevertheless, a good solid month in the bid for promotion.

Now, the second instalment of the squad Claridge has at Sheffield United...

The Midfield


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CM- Conor Coady (on loan from Liverpool) 24 (3) apps, 0 goals, 0 assists, 6.99

One of the more solid players in the team, loanee Conor Coady has been a good player this season and has performed consistently. A reason he is starting a lot is that his discipline is far better than that of his rival for the ball winning midfielder role, Michael Doyle. I hope he will be able to stay till the end of the season- his loan expires in, bizarrely, February- and maybe even longer. First choice.

CM- Stephen McGinn 15 (5) apps, 0 goals, 1 assist, 6.79

Started the season as first choice in the deep lying playmaker role, he now has serious competition in the shape of Stefan Scougall, but he has performed rather solidly if doing so while not being at all spectacular. Long term, I will be looking for a player to bring goals from central midfield, as this is where both Coady and McGinn could improve, but he is a decent player at League 1 level.

Michael Doyle 16 (4) apps, 0 goals, 0 assist, 6.89

Poor discipline means that he hasn't got as many appearances as he could have had and he has now lost his place to Coady. I will look to move him on in the summer as he is on quite a large contract for a player who doesn't start- £5.5k a week- and a far younger man could be brought in for less wages and with a bit of potential. Back up ball winner.

Stefan Scougall 8 (6) apps, 0 goals, 3 assists, 7.14

Scougall was injured when Claridge first arrived and took a while to get up to match fitness, but since he got to the necessary level, he has provided the competition for McGinn in the deep lying midfielder role and, at 21, he could progress very while with the right game time. Rotation/Hot Prospect

Paul McKenna 3 (6) apps, 0 goals, 0 assists, 6.64

Free transfer, back up, barely featured, will leave, done.

Keith Treacy 23 (2) apps, 2 goals, 7 assists, 7.12

Brought in initially on loan from Burnley, Treacy has been a quality player this season and is the undisputed first choice on the left wing and has chipped in with a few assists which, after all, is one of the main roles as a winger. The future fee of £250k is tempting and will be looked at throughout the season. First choice.

Ryan Flynn 28 (1) apps, 7 goals, 17 assists, 7.47

One of the players of the season so far, Ryan Flynn has excelled this season and is a player vital to the Sheffield United side of the 2013/14 season and has had his contract extended as such. If we were to get promoted, I would be intrigued to see how successful he would be in the right midfield role in a higher league. Key player this season, however.

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