Dark Horse Chronicles – Sheffield United

We’re going to another Championship side this week in Sheffield United. We did one of their rivals, Sheff Wed, last week so it seems only fitting to cover the other side of the rivalry also. Plus, Sheff United have been performing above expectations also!
Sheff United has had a very similar spell of dominance, after being promoted from League One for the 2017-2018 season where they secured a 10th place finish. Currently, they are first in the Championship. Based on the season they’ve had so far, if they are able to keep this form up, they’d finish with around 96 points, which should basically assure them Premier League football next year. This means that they, like Sheff Wed, would have increased their points total by almost 30 points year over year. They are on pace to score about 80 goals, to concede about roughly ending the year with an +30 goal differential. They’ve had 3 losses so far this season, one to a top 5 team — and the other 2 to midtable teams.

What has changed?
Part of the improvement has been some shrewd business deals — they sold David Brooks (an academy product) for about $14M and even after all these signings, they still have  a positive transfer balance right about $6M.
Dean Henderson (loan) – The Manchester United youth product has been sensational for the Championship side conceding 13 goals in 12 matches and keeping 4 clean sheets. Henderson has so far taken over the starting role that was split last season between Jamal Blackman and Simon Moore. Blackman had 9 clean sheets across 31 games and conceded 34 goals and Moore conceded 20 goals in 18 games, while keeping only 4 clean sheets. Henderson looks to be a great loan signing for the side.
John Egan ($5.5M signing from Brentford) – John Egan has been a defensive stalwart so far this season, appearing in all 12 league matches and being very solid defensively while adding a goal as well. From his centerback position he’s averaging almost 1.5 interceptions per game while also providing more than 6 clearances. He was a bit of an investment for the blades, but at 25 he’s already showing ridiculous consistency so all in all it’s looking like a great transfer piece.
Oliver Norwood ($2.75M signing from Brighton) – Appearing in 9 games so far, Norwood has been named Man of the Match on three separate occasions after providing 3 assists and a goal. In addition, he is averaging just under 3 key passes per game while maintaining the highest pass completion rate (87%) of all regular first team players. He’s provided huge contributions for most of the season and has been exceptional in their wins. If he can continue to play like this for Sheff United, I think he was a steal at this price, especially since he’s only 27. He was on loan at Fulham and has already matched his assist total for the entire season a mere 12 games in.
David McGoldrick (Free Transfer, formerly at Ipswich) – David McGoldrick has appeared in all 12 matches and has scored 5 goals putting him as the second most prolific scorer on the team. He’s getting older, but Sheff United took a chance on a 30 year old player on a free transfer and it seems to have paid dividends already.
Sheff United has lost 3 matches (Swansea, @Middlesborough, and @Bristol City) who are 11th, 4th, and 13th respectively. They have also drawn once (against 17th place Birmingham at home). We’ll have to see how their form continues out this season, but so far it’s been a remarkable improvement and they’ll look to consolidate their hold on an automatic promotion places (probably for the Blades, first place will be sought after).
Until next week…
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