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A brief review of Sheffield United’s last season in the top-flight:- the agonising relegation tale of the 2006-07 campaign

The excitement amongst the fans at Bramall Lane is expected to rocket sky-high as Sheffield Unitedget their preparations underway for the upcoming 2019-20 season of the Premier League.

Indeed, the club’s long exile from the top-flight has finally come to an end and Premier League football is set to return to South Yorkshire for the first time since 2006-07.

Sheffield United, of course, are a big club with a lot of heritage and the fans have every reason to rejoice their club’s resurrection in recent times. The Blades were tottering in League One just a few years back but former player Chris Wilder took charge and turned the club’s fortunes around with two promotions in the space of just three years.

However, now that they are in the Premier League, it is high time for them to put the disappointment of all those lacklustre years behind them. Two emphatic promotion-winning campaigns over the past three years have given them a solid platform from where they should look to kick on and move forward with a view to thriving in the top-flight for years to come.

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A brief review of Sheffield United’s previous season in the PL: The agonising relegation tale from the past 7

The Blades are yet to set the ball rolling in the transfer window this summer and, while that might sound a bit disappointing, the club hierarchy is working hard behind the scenes to get some deals done before the deadline. Keeping all those talks aside, let us take a walk down the memory lane and relive Sheffield United’s season in the top-flight last time.

Well, that might not sound like a good idea to the fans at Bramall Lane given that the Blades finished at the wrong end of a relegation dogfight in the 2006-07 season of the Premier League.

Sheffield’s stay in the top-flight proved to be nothing more than a passing shower at that time, however, it wasn’t the most humiliating of relegations after all.

As a matter of fact, they were in with a chance of staying up until the last day of the season, only for things to go wrong at the very last moment.

Nevertheless, the 2006-07 campaign proved to be quite an eventful one for the Blades and it is definitely worth taking a brief look back at what actually happened twelve years ago. 

The 2006-07 season

After many disappointments in the previous campaigns, Sheffield United finally secured a return to the top-flight under the stewardship of Neil Warnock, with Neil Shipperley’s 11 goals helping the Blades finish as runners-up in the 2005-06 season of the Championship.

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A brief review of Sheffield United’s previous season in the PL: The agonising relegation tale from the past 8

Transfers

With expectations crossing all limits upon securing promotion, Sheffield United opted for a squad overhaul prior to the start of the Premier League season.

The Blades brought in as many as 14 new players in the summer and winter transfer windows combined, which came at the expense of several of those who had played a key role in the promotion-winning campaign. 

The likes of Neil Shipperley, David Unsworth, Steve Kabba, Paul Ifill, Ade Akinbiyi, Ian Ross and Geoff Horsfield were sold. Others like Brian Deane and Gary Flitcroft hung up their boots, while Bruce Dyer and Kyle Nix were released.

Sheffield not only added some quality domestic players like David Sommeil, Claude Davis, Rob Hulse, Matthew Kilgallon and Jon Stead but they also resorted to playing low-cost gambles on Christian Nade, Mamadou Seck, Luton Shelton and Ahmed Fathy, with all of them arriving from foreign leagues.

Warnock was tasked with getting all these new players together and extracting the best out of them to steer the club to safety.

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As it happened

Sheffield United kicked off their Premier League campaign in an impressive manner, earning a vital point with a 1-1 draw with Liverpool at home on the opening day.

They subsequently slumped to defeats at the hands of Spurs, Fulham, Reading and Arsenal in four of their next five games before registering their first win of the season against Middlesbrough at home towards the end of September.

Boosted by their first win, the Blades pinched another vital point with a 0-0 draw against Man City away from home and subsequently suffered defeats against Everton and Chelsea before returning to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Newcastle United. In doing so, they registered their first away win of the season.

Sheffield lost to Manchester United and West Ham early in November but a sudden upturn of form starting from late November to the end of December meant that the Blades managed to somehow stay clear of the drop zone.

Warnock guided his team to victories over Watford, Charlton and Wigan prior to the Christmas period before finishing the year off in style with an incredible 1-0 win against Arsenal at home.

It wasn’t a particularly good start to 2007 for the Blades though, with the club only managing to accumulate a solitary point from their first three Premier League outings.

However, a 2-0 home victory over Fulham towards the end of January followed by a 2-1 decapitulation of Spurs once again helped them get their campaign back in the right direction.

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The agony of relegation on the basis of goal difference

That, however, proved to be a temporary relief for Warnock, as Sheffield lost four out of their next five games to set the alarm bells ringing once again.

The Blades answered their critics in an emphatic manner with a 3-0 victory over West Ham, however, after suffering defeats at the hands of Man United and Aston Villa, Sheffield went into the final day of the season against Wigan Athletic knowing that a draw would be enough to ensure another season of top-flight football.

Despite being sucked into an unwanted relegation battle, Sheffield had their fate in their own hands heading into the last game at home against Wigan. With the scores tied at 1-1, it looked as if the Blades were going to steer themselves to safety quite comfortably.

However, in a twist of fate, David Unsworth, the man who had started the season at Bramall Lane and later joined Wigan on a free transfer in January 2007, came off the bench as a substitute and scored the goal that sent Sheffield United down to the Championship.

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Wigan managed to finish outside the bottom three by the virtue of their superior goal difference, while the fans at Bramall Lane could not help but shed tears following a painful end to a rather promising campaign in the top-flight which saw the Blades accumulate a total of 38 points with 10 victories and 8 draws.

Whether or not they deserved to be relegated 12 years back is a topic that is dead and buried, but now that they are back in the Premier League with new hopes and expectations, Sheffield United have to give it their all to make sure they stay alive in the top-flight this time.

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