After suffering relegation back to the Sky Bet Championship, Sheffield United set their sights on an immediate top-flight return.
It has taken the South Yorkshire side longer to find their feet back in the second-tier than expected, unakin to when the Blades took the Championship by storm in 2018/19, but they finally broke their duck at the weekend, registering their first League victory in style.
Blades skipper Billy Sharp has turned from striker to provider, setting up three of his side’s six goals in an emphatic 6-2 victory over Peterborough United. And although his role is interchangeable, Sharp is hoping to be back among the goals soon.
“I’m finding myself playing a lot more centrally - I do like to get involved in play and link play, but obviously, everyone knows I like to be the one who puts them in the net,” he said, on the Official EFL Podcast.
“That game just happened to be where I wasn’t getting quite through onto goal, it was down the sides of the defenders which I recognised was what was hurting Peterborough. We got a lot of joy from it, so I had to do that for the team and it’s always nice when you do put balls in the box that somebody gets on the end of them.
“I got some plaudits for the assists which don’t mean a great deal to me, but it helped the team get three points and score six goals which was a fantastic result.”
The departure of Chris Wilder shocked many fans and players alike, and after Paul Heckingbottom stepped into the breach, Sheffield United named former Watford and Fulham boss Slaviša Jokanović as their new head coach in May.
“Last season, we had a change of manager and you could see the things Heckingbottom was trying to do, we started to get the hang of them towards the end of the season,” Sharp explained.
“When the new manager came in, he wanted to play a different way and bring in new players. I know that this was a popular choice by the fans and the players so everyone’s happy. It has taken it’s time and it hasn’t clicked as quickly as we wanted to, but we’ve created a lot more and it’s just the little things now.”
The Blades followed up their first League win with a 2-2 draw against Preston North End on Tuesday evening, falling foul of an 85th minute equaliser for the visitors from Emil Riis Jakobsen.
“I hold my hands up, I gave a free-kick away on the half-way line with a minute to go,” he conceded. “We didn’t clear the first ball and weren’t marking for the second one which hurts you in football if you don’t do the small things. We can’t rely on scoring six goals all the time and it’s something we need to tighten up on.
“I’ve sat here all day thinking about if I didn’t give the free-kick away. That’s football. You have the joys and setbacks of three days before where we were comfortable in the game. It’s not all doom and gloom.
“The last few games our fans have been encouraged by the performance at least. We need them on our side. It’s such a big backing we’ve got at home. It drives us on.”
And Sheffield United fans will likely travel in their numbers when the Blades face Yorkshire rivals Hull City this weekend.
He added: “There’s a long way to go in this season and there’s another game coming up at the weekend which will be up on us before we know it.”