Don't Panic, Sheffield United Will Find Their Groove Despite Disappointing Opening Day

Oli McBurnie
Sheffield Utd kicked off their 2020/21 season with a 2-0 loss against Wolves | Pool/Getty Images

Conceding two goals in the first six minutes of the new season wasn't exactly the best way to get things underway for Sheffield United.

Following an emphatic return to the Premier League last season, which saw them finish ninth just two points behind Arsenal, an opening day defeat to Wolves was disappointing viewing for fans of the Blades.

Contrary to the general reaction post-match, however, their loss doesn't automatically mean they're to be banished to non-league indefinitely and never play a Premier League game again. Who'd have thought?

The defeat was a concern, especially when one considers a slump in form at the end of last season following the three-month lockdown where Sheffield United seemed to run out of steam. It's by no means the end of the world, though, or an early bath in the waters of relegation - they just need time.

Raul Jimenez
Wolves dispatched of the Blades with ease | Pool/Getty Images

Truth is, the Blades did run out of steam, and their opening day performance this season shows they still haven't quite rediscovered it all just yet. Chris Wilder's side play an intense pressing game, which was why they managed to be such a success last season. Not only are United trying to keep up the same game as last season - which teams now know to expect - but they're also doing it with virtually the same squad.

The Blades have brought in full backs Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe from Derby, winger Oliver Burke from West Brom and loaned in defender Ethan Ampadu from Chelsea.

The recruitment policy shows a clear direction of preference towards young, British talent, but it also means the new faces aren't fully equipped to come in and take the burden off the starting XI straight away. The Blades will reap the rewards in time, but it's also what's causing their early season struggle; their young guns need patience and aren't a direct answer.

They've also lost Dean Henderson, who's returned to Manchester United upon the end of his loan. And while picking up Aaron Ramsdale from a relegated Bournemouth is a solid signing, anyone would struggle to replace one of last season's strongest goalkeepers.

Dean Henderson
Henderson is a big loss on the pitch and in the dressing room for the Blades | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Wilder is the man who brought Sheffield United to new heights in the first place and proved last season that he was more than just another overhyped English manager. Granted the first season was always going to be their best chance of getting away with such a unique style of play, nobody can take away just how well drilled the squad was throughout the majority of the campaign.

He's turned a nothing special Championship side into a tough to beat, exciting to watch Premier League squad, capable of causing upsets and earning impressive points throughout a season. The squad - assembled on a tight budget - is one of the Premier League's weaker sides on paper and would perhaps be a team considered for a relegation battle under different management, which is again testament to the head coach.

The way Wilder has motivated the squad into playing such an intense game is impressive, and is again another reason why the Blades will find their feet once more this season.

To suggest that Sheffield United are set to have a blinder of a second season and better their 2019/20 campaign would be naive, considering the limited tools they have and the style of play they implement. However, to immediately write them off after one game of the new season would be equally as ignorant.

The Blades perhaps aren't going to set the world on fire like they managed in their return to the top flight, but they're more than capable of finding their feet once more to push for another impressive finish - one that will see them comfortably avoid relegation.