My take on Sheffield United’s not so Merry Christmas

It was a Christmas period that could’ve provided Sheffield United with so much hope, but what looked very promising ended up being a massive hammer blow to the solar plexus of everyone involved in the football club.

Before heading into the game against Aston Villa, many said Chris Wilder’s leadership helped revitalise the team and the traditional fighting spirit characteristic of the Blades. However, after the recent results, some have now gone back to being completely critical of the player’s efforts.

Fine Margins

In the build up to the Villa game, a lot of fans had issued the “free hit” card. But when you defended so well for large periods of the game, and held a lead with just over a minute to go, you feel like your soul has just been ripped out of you when you only walk away with a single point.

Against Luton Town it seemed like the Blades were still suffering from the bitterly disappointing late equaliser. Sheffield United seemed scared to engage with Luton in the first half. But Wilder’s teamtalk at halftime had a huge positive effect and the Blades completely dominated the second half.

The players came out with a point to prove as they restricted Luton to just one shot on target all second half, which came in the 67th minute. United created five big chances, scoring two of them. Overall the Blades created six big chances, registered 12 shots inside the box, and totalled an xG of 2.59 compared to Luton’s 0.63.

To lose that game is just unthinkable. And whichever way you spin it, (it probably goes into the back of our net), it’s unlucky.

While the challenge of retaining a spot in the Premier League is undoubtedly formidable, Wilder’s presence in the dugout has seen United’s overall performances improve, but after the Christmas period we’ve just had, nobody wants to hear that when we have shot ourselves in the foot twice.

And to make matters even worse, Sheffield United face the toughest test of them all: travelling to Manchester to face Man City while you’re still licking your wounds from previous matches.

Nobody expects the team to be competitive against City.

Is the season done for Sheffield United?

Seven points behind. To be fair, crazier things have happened. But after seeing how the last couple of games have unfolded, the footballing gods want the Blades down.

Either way Sheffield United have to start looking to the future.

The squad is poised for a reset, given the presence of aging players and high-profile names nearing the end of their contracts. It remains to be seen whether this restructuring process will commence in January and/or the summer.

Many have wondered if Chris Wilder was going to get funds in the January transfer window. I think if United picked four or six points, like they should’ve done over Christmas, Prince Abdullah would have enabled some spending in January. Now though, I wouldn’t blame any owner for choosing against spending when it seems like a lost cause at the minute.

Although, the initial fixtures in 2024 present a favourable outlook with ample opportunities. January holds two encounters against West Ham and Crystal Palace, providing a chance to secure points, albeit with the acknowledgment that nothing is straightforward at this level. And Moving into February, there are rematches against Aston Villa and Luton, along with matches against Brighton and Wolves.