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The Super Blades- A Sheffield United Story

Started on 26 June 2014 by TheNortherner
Latest Reply on 8 July 2014 by Zed
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Somehow I knew I would love this...
Keep up the good work!

January


A busy old month for Steve Claridge's Sheffield United and what a mixed bag of a month it proved to be...

Game 31- FA Cup R3; Sheffield United 0-0 Nottingham Forest
Game 32- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 2-2 Oldham; Stevie May, Jose Baxter
Game 33- Skybet League 1; Notts County 1-4 Sheffield United; Jamaal Lascelles, Marcus Tudgay, Stevie May (2)
Game 34- FA Cup R3 Replay; Nottingham Forest 1-2 Sheffield United; Stevie May, Jamie Murphy
Game 35- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 2-0 Bradford City; Jose Baxter, Keith Treacy
Game 36- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 0-1 Brentford
Game 37- FA Cup R4; Northampton Town 0-1 Sheffield United; Marcus Tudgay
Game 38- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 1-2 Peterborough; Jose Baxter
Game 39- Skybet League 1; Crewe 2-2 Sheffield United; Jose Baxter, Keith Treacy

Two league losses in the month and two points thrown away in the visit to Crewe has seen Sheffield United drop down to third spot- albeit with a game in hand on both teams above- but the biggest problem of the month is the injury to Stevie May. Picked up against Peterborough, he will be out for between four and six weeks and I fear that United may miss his goals and presence up front... we shall see! I decided against bringing anybody else in instead to replace him as I felt Tudgay could cover for him and, besides, it is only a month- what could possibly go wrong? The league is very tight at the moment- while Claridge's United are only four points off top with a game in hand, Brentford are only three points behind in 7th place, so this month without Stevie May is make or break I think.

As promised, here is the final installment of the squad review; the strikers...

The Forwards


http://s1064.photobucket.com/user/J8394/media/forwards.png.html

ST- Stevie May 25 (6) apps, 24 goals, 7 assists, 7.28

Signing of the summer and the top scorer in the league, May has taken to English football like a duck to water and has proven his worth and then some in South Yorkshire. The man is born to score goals and will hopefully continue when he returns from injury this season and, hopefully, in the Championship next season if United go up. First choice.

AMC/ST- Jose Baxter 33 (3) apps, 21 goals, 9 assists, 7.28

Playing in the shadow striker role, predominantly behind Stevie May, Jose Baxter has proven to be a revelation. He has played the vast majority of games this season and is just irresistible in the role. He bags spectacular goals for fun, and the long range free kick is a weapon he seems to regularly use. The sort of player who, at a young age, will hopefully be at the club for years and will continue to be a focal point for the team and continue his superb partnership with May.

ST- Marcus Tudgay 12 (7) apps, 7 goals, 4 assists, 6.89

Brought in initially to give another option to May and to fill in, the Nottingham Forest loanee has chipped in and will hopefully continue to through the season as we push for promotion. There isn't a lot to say here as he is a solid if unspectacular player for the club and won't be around next season.

ST- Billy Paynter 3 (4) apps, 2 goals, 0 assists, 7.22

An early injury saw Paynter down to third choice striker and the good form coupled with good health for May, Baxter and Tudgay has left him with barely a sniff. However, when he does get a chance, he has scored a couple of goals and his efforts may be rewarded with more game time now May is injured. Another loanee, he will be leaving the club at the end of the season.

ST/AML/ML- Jamie Murphy 12 (10) apps, 6 goals, 1 assist, 6.98

After pre season training saw Murphy begin training as a left midfielder, he provides back up there to Keith Treacy while also being Jose Baxter's deputy behind the main striker. He has chipped in when called upon and is another solid back up at the club.

February


The fixture congestion really hit home this month for Steve Claridge's men, and the absence of Stevie May is proving difficult to cope with for the Blades- is the season unravelling at the very moment when they needed to keep all the threads in order? ...

Game 40- Johnstone's Paint Trophy Northern Final 1L; Scunthorpe United 2-2 Sheffield United; Billy Paynter, Jose Baxter
Game 41- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 3-0 Shrewsbury; Ryan Flynn, Stephen McGinn, Jamie Murphy
Game 42- Skybet League 1; Wallsall 1-0 Sheffield United
Game 43- FA Cup R5; Swansea 8-0 Sheffield United
Game 44- Johnstone's Paint Trophy Northern Final 2L; Sheffield United 4-0 Scunthorpe United; Jose Baxter (2), Billy Paynter, Ryan Flynn
Game 45- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 1-0 Bristol City; Ryan Flynn
Game 46- Skybet League 1; Colchester 2-0 Sheffield United

So Tudgay managed to get injured and was ruled out for the same length of time as May, and Sheffield United are now sitting in 3rd place with a game in hand on the two above- Wolves and Walsall- both of whom are four points ahead of the Blades. The match against Colchester was the first of two games in hand and, in a must not lose game, we went and did just that, which was a shame. The defeat against Swansea was very much an exercise in damage limitation as, through January and February, there were two games every week which, unfortunately, took it's toll on a small squad, but this exercise paid off to a certain extent as we reached the JPT final after beating Scunthorpe United. With Stevie May still out for another fortnight, the squad rotation will have to continue for now and, hopefully, we will still be in with a shout when he comes back and he can hopefully shoot us into the second tier!

Transfers


January brought transfer season and, with a couple of truculent players being moved out of the club, a couple were brought in...

They were Jamie Hamill, who arrived from Hearts for £40k as his contract was expiring in the summer and he was mainly brought in to replace the departing Michael Doyle who was released due to his ludicrous wage, shocking performances and his reaction when fined for a red card he picked up in January. The second addition was Brentford's Tony Craig who arrived for £170k. He was intended as a replacement for McGinty who agitated for a loan move away, but this never materialised due to lack of interest. Initially, this left too many defenders on the books. However, Matt Hill, an ageing player who I wanted rid of anyway, got angry after a fine for a red card- you may notice a pattern here- and was offered mutual termination, which he took up instantly, leaving Sheffield United with a better player who could do his job.

Hot prospect Diego De Girolamo was sent out on loan to Central Coast Mariners, one of the feeder clubs, to gain experience after offers from Liverpool and PSG were turned down for the youngster- potential star???

March


Any month with eight matches is going to hit a squad suffering from an injury crisis is not going to go well, is it? Lessons have been learned for Steve Claridge...

Game 46- Skybet League 1; MK Dons 3-0 Sheffield United
Game 47- Skybet League 1; Gillingham 1-3 Sheffield United; Keith Treacy, Jamie Murphy, Marcus Tudgay
Game 48- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 0-3 Rotherham
Game 49- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 3-1 Carlisle; Marcus Tudgay, Keith Treacy, Ryan Flynn
Game 50- Skybet League 1; Preston 0-0 Sheffield United
Game 51- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 3-1; Harry Maguire, Jamie Murphy, Stevie May
Game 52- Skybet League 1; Crawley 4-1 Sheffield United; Conor Coady
Game 53- Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final; Bristol City 3-2 Sheffield United; Jose Baxter, Marcus Tudgay

A massive disappointment this month, on two fronts. Firstly, after coming back from 1-0 down to turn Wolves over 3-1- and Stevie May returning with a goal-, United then went to ruin all the good work and crashed to a 4-1 away defeat to lowly Crawley. Then, a late goal for Bristol City took the chance of penalties away from the Blades after Coady got sent off after 50 minutes, when United were 2-1 down.

Anyway, we now sit fourth, one point behind Bristol City in third and six points behind Walsall in the second automatic promotion spot. However, we do have a game in hand at the start of April against a poor Swindon side so that may be the time May is given his chance to impress from the start and to, hopefully, rekindle the automatic promotion chances with seven matches left...

April and End of Season


Game 54- Skybet League 1; Swindon 1-1 Sheffield United; Jamaal Lascelles
Game 55- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 0-0 Leyton Orient
Game 56- Skybet League 1; Oldham 1-3 Sheffield United; Keith Treacy, Jose Baxter, Stevie May
Game 57- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 2-1 Stevenage; Conor Coady, Stevie May
Game 58- Skybet League 1; Tranmere 2-3 Sheffield United; Tony Craig, Ryan Flynn, Stevie May
Game 59- Skybet League 1; Port Vale 1-1 Sheffield United; Stevie May
Game 60- Skybet League 1; Sheffield United 1-1 Coventry City; Stevie May

So, 60 games completed and an 82nd minute goal for Coventry took two points off Claridge's Sheffield United team and left them having to settle for third place and a play off tie against Peterborough, with Bristol City sneaking in on the last day to finish a point ahead of the Blades. The other play off will be between Walsall and Tranmere, and the end of the season has left many questions;

Why couldn't we beat either Port Vale or Coventry in the last two to get automatic promotion?
What would have happened had Stevie May not go injured and been out for hte best part of two months?

However, now he is back and getting goals, maybe the man May can lead us up through the play offs.

The Play Offs


Game 61- Skybet League 1 Play Offs, First Leg; Peterborough 0-1 Sheffield United; Keith Treacy
Game 62- Skybet League 1 Play Offs, Second Leg; Sheffield United 3-0 Peterborough; Stevie May (3)

So, there we have it, Sheffield United reached the Skybet League 1 play off final in Steve Claridge's first season as manager and, after it looking unlikely for a period of the season, they have a very real chance of getting promoted as they prepare to face Tranmere at Wembley...

Game 63- SKYBET LEAGUE 1 PLAY OFF FINAL; Tranmere 0-1 Sheffield United; Stevie May

Well, it had to be didn't it? The signing of the season, the league's top scorer and an absolute revelation, Stevie May showed just why Claridge was prepared to spend £200k on him in the summer and his goals this season were simply vital- as we saw when he was absent- and he hit the ground running after his return to net a staggering 32 goals in 35 league matches this season to surely earn the league's player of the year award. Hopefully he can deliver in the Skybet Championship next season.

A man who will also be there is manager Steve Claridge who, after reaching the Play Off Final, was offered an extension to his contract which was to expire at the end of the season and he has now signed until the summer of 2017- more fun to be had at Bramall Lane with Claridge at the helm.

The new season will, naturally, bring new signings and, obviously, new kits! These will be delivered shortly, so I hope you have enjoyed reading so far and if you have any suggestions on how to make this better, let me know.

Pre Season #1


So I shall bring you the pre season news in two posts. In the first post, this one, I shall show you who has been brought in and who has departed Bramall Lane this summer and, in the second one, I shall post the results from the pre season friendlies and discuss how the team is shaping up for the new season as Sheffield United re-enter the Championship.

Transfers


http://s1064.photobucket.com/user/J8394/media/newsignings1415.png.html

In a busy summer preparing for life back in the second tier, Claridge saw fit to bring in eight new faces to the club, as well as making the loan deals of Keith Treacy and Conor Coady permanent. In total, the players coming in this summer cost £193k, as most of them were on free transfers...

Danny Lafferty came in from Burnley for a fee of £20k as Claridge wanted to ensure the deal was done before he was offered an extension to his expiring contract in Lancashire. One problem with the team last season was a lack of depth throughout the team and, especially, the fact that Bob Harris was the only left back in the squad and he was rather jaded at times in the season. Because of this, Lafferty was brought in so as to give a bit of competition as well as being another option at left back.

The next man in was Dorian Dervite, Charlton's French centre half who arrived for £25k- the low fee due to the same reason as Lafferty's deal- and he will hopefully be competition for Tony Craig to play at centre half alongside captain Maguire. Jamaal Lascelles' loan deal expired and he returned to Nottingham Forest, so it was necessary to bring in another centre half.

Another expiring loan deal was that of right back John Brayford, who went back to Cardiff City after a season in South Yorkshire. To replace him, Peterborough's Mark Little arrived for another very small fee as his contract was expiring and will hopefully be a solid replacement for one of last year's most important players.

Luke McCormick arrived on a free transfer from Plymouth to replace Mark Howard as George Long's back up and, at 30, will hopefully not do too much complaining. He will be playing in the cup matches and will get an occasional match in the league.

Dwight Gayle is probably the most exciting signing of the summer as a striker to provide last year's League 1 player of the season Stevie May with a bit of competition after Marcus Tudgay returned to Forest. Hopefully Gayle will bag a few goals- he did in pre season- and maybe form a bit of a partnership with May if a new formation is tried as, if they can both click, there will surely be goals in that pairing.

Franck Moussa is a solid winger or attacking midfielder whose contract expired and has joined to help boost the strength in depth of the squad and he flourished in pre season to the extent that he is now in direct competition with Treacy for the left midfield berth. I am very pleased with this signing.

Ex Chelsea defender Sam Hutchinson was the next free transfer to join the club and he has the added bonus of being able to play both centre half and right back and was brought in after McGinty left the club for the year on loan. Hopefully, a defensive injury crisis will be avoided this season but, if it does occur, Hutchinson's versatility will be vital.

The final arrival at Bramall Lnae was ex Manchester United, Burnley and Bolton winger Chris Eagles as I felt he could provide more depth to the squad. We will see how well he does, but I fear this may have been an error as I'm not sure he will play much or deliver much at all.

The next post will focus on both the pre season results and the start of the 2014/15 league season- WE ARE BACK IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP!

Pre Season #2


Stevie May; "Boss, I need to talk to you. Can I come into your office?"
Steve Claridge; "Of course, Stevie. Take a seat. What's the matter?"
Stevie May; "Since moving down here, I have felt a little bit homesick and I genuinely feel like I won't be able to deliver the goals I brought the club last season again this season if I don't feel more at home. Please help me out.
Steve Claridge; "I'll see what I can do, Stevie. Just know that we all want you to thrive here, so I will see what I can do."

What can Claridge do? What can he do to keep his star striker happy? There is, of course, only one thing...

Sheffield United announce new shirt sponsorship deal with
Scottish drinks manufacturer


After pondering long and hard to come up with a way of keeping star striker Stevie May happy, Steve Claridge realised that he had to bring to South Yorkshire what every Scotsman loves- Irn Bru. In the sponsorship deal, Sheffield United's players and staff will receive as much of the drink as they want and, to cap it off, Stevie May will have the honour of wearing his favourite drink's logo on the front of his shirt for at least the next season. Claridge got in contact with their kit sponsors, adidas, and these are the kits they provided for the new season...

http://s1064.photobucket.com/user/J8394/media/1415kits.png.html

Now that has been sorted and the star man appeased, Claridge could move on to focus on the friendlies Sheffield United had lined up...

Pre Season; Celtic 0-3 Sheffield United; OG, Harry Maguire, Franck Moussa
Pre Season; Sheffield United 3-0 FC Metz; Dwight Gayle (2), Jamie Murphy
Pre Season; Southampton 3-0 Sheffield United
Pre Season; Carlise 0-2 Sheffield United; Franck Moussa, Stevie May
Pre Season; Sheffield United 4-0 Nuneaton; Dwight Gayle (3), Stevie May

A good pre season there- barring the Southampton result, which was a bit of a kick in the teeth- but the new signings seem to have settled in quite well, especially Moussa and Gayle, both of whom may prove to be big players this season.

So, time for the next season to get underway...
Some really good results last season, and really good signings, especially Gayle! Great kits as well!
1
TheNortherner's avatar Group TheNortherner
7 yearsEdited

August


Steve Claridge's first season in the Skybet Championship has begun...

Game 1- Skybet Championship; QPR 0-3 Sheffield United; Dorian Dervite, Stevie May (2)
Game 2- Capital One Cup R1; Sheffield United 0-1 Rochdale
Game 3- Skybet Championship; Sheffield United 0-1 Derby
Game 4- Skybet Championship; Charlton 4-0 Sheffield United
Game 5- Skybet Championship; Sheffield United 0-0 Millwall
Game 6- Skybet Championship; West Brom 2-0 Sheffield United
Game 7- Skybet Championship; Sheffield United 2-4 Blackburn Rovers; Franck Moussa, Stevie May

So, after the first game of the season, I thought it could have been a decent season... However, after that the first month could not have gone much worse at all; being knocked out of the League Cup by lowly Rochdale and then not scoring for another four games after that. Stevie May has delivered a few goals to pay back for his unlimited Irn Bru, but the team is struggling a little bit as we enter September...

A couple more players were added after the season had started, the first of which was Bristol City's centre half Aden Flint, who arrived on a three month loan to cover for an injury picked up in pre season by Tony Craig, and Flint has featured in a couple of games so far. The second addition was £450k acquisition Harry Arter from Bournemouth who hasn't really hit the ground running and I am hoping that he isn't a rather expensive mistake. The final man to come in is a man to fill the 'big lump up front' in the shape of Mohammadou Idrissou who arrived on a free transfer and it remains to be seen how much of a role he will play...

Time to crack on with September as Claridge aims to improve the form of the team and to, hopefully, climb higher than the 22nd spot Sheffield United currently sit in the Championship...

September


Steve Claridge's Sheffield United team has dropped a place to 22nd in the league in what has proved a very difficult and poor start to the season...

Game 8- Skybet Championship; Sheffield United 2-2 Barnsley; Chris Eagles, Franck Moussa
Game 9- Skybet Championship; Huddersfield 3-1 Sheffield United; Stevie May
Game 10- Skybet Championship; Leeds United 1-1 Sheffield United; Jose Baxter
Game 11- Skybet Championship; Sheffield United 0-2 Ipswich
Game 12- Skybet Championship; Sheffield United 0-1 Burnley
Game 13- Skybet Championship; Blackpool 1-2 Sheffield United; Dwight Gayle (2)

So the month ended with only the second win of the season and the first since the opening day of the season with a well deserved and hard fought away win over Blackpool. None of the matches have been drubbings and Sheffield United seem to have more shots in a game than the other teams- they just can't put them in! The matches against Huddersfield and Ipswich saw them both get a late goal to add a gloss to the scoreline, so it isn't like Claridge's team are getting hammered week in, week out, but on the same hand he knows that what counts at this stage is simply getting points on the board...

October


That losing feeling just won't go away, no matter what we do...

Game 14- Skybet Championship; West Ham 2-1 Sheffield United; Stevie May
Game 15- Skybet Championship; Sheffield United 0-2 Crystal Palace
Game 16- Skybet Championship; Sheffield United 1-0 Nottingham Forest; Jose Baxter
Game 17- Skybet Championship; Sheffield United 2-3 Bolton; Dorian Dervite, Stevie May
Game 18- Skybet Championship; Wolves 2-0 Sheffield United

Poor month, again, we sit bottom. The result against West Ham was hard to take after leading until the 81st minute, Lafferty getting sent off in the 73rd minute was the death of it though and two late goals led to a robbery being pulled off.

Next up is the derby against Sheffield Wednesday, currently in 23rd, and a win would take us above them.

Houston- We had a problem


Staggeringly, the game crashed, corrupted, and all hell broke loose. However, due to my foresight at how genuinely appalling my computer is, there was another saved version of the game, which was from before the start of the season we had begun. So I just started again from there, and indeed learnt from my mistakes to guide Sheffield United to 13th place in the Skybet Championship.

I will now start writing again from the season we are now about to start, the 2015/16 season. I hope that some of you will begin reading this again and enjoying it!
Unlucky to lose the save but I guess it might have been a blessing in disguise with your improved form! Hopefully you can hit the ground running come the new season :)
Unlucky with that one mate, hopefully you'll do really well though in the next season!

You are reading "The Super Blades- A Sheffield United Story".

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