The match between Sheffield United and Aston Villa at Bramall Lane on Saturday turned out to be disappointing from the Blades’ perspective.
Holgate, a deadline day signing, made his full debut, while Norrington-Davies earned his first Premier League start after recovering from a long-term injury. Foderingham returned to goalkeeping duties, and youngsters Brooks and Osula were also back in the starting lineup. Additionally, there was a positive development with Tom Davies returning to the matchday squad.
Blades: Foderingham, Trusty, Brereton Diaz (Archer 64), Ahmedhodzic, Bogle, Souza, McAtee (T. Davies 71), Holgate, Osula (Hamer 45), Norrington-Davies (Robinson 50), Brooks (Osborn 50).
Unused: Amissah, Norwood, Oné, Larouci.
Villa: Martinez, Diego Carlos, Konsa (Cash 59), Douglas Luiz (Ramsey 45), McGinn (Iroegbunam 71), Tielemans (Rogers 80), Watkins, Moreno, Lenglet, Bailey (Diaby 59), Kamara.
Unused: Olsen, Wright, Chambers, Kesler-Hayden.
United began the game positively, with Brereton-Diaz nearly scoring early on, but their optimism faded quickly as Villa capitalised on fortuitous circumstances to take the lead. Watkins’ shot hit the post with Ahmedhodžić retreating, allowing McGinn to tap into an empty net. Watkins then extended Villa’s lead with a well-executed finish on 16 minutes.
The situation worsened for United on 20 minutes as Watkins turned provider for Bailey, who scored with a superb finish. Souza made a crucial clearance off the line to deny Tielemans as the half-hour mark approached, but Villa scored their fourth from the resulting corner, with Tielemans finding the net off the underside of the crossbar.
Hamer came on for Osula at halftime, but within two minutes of the second half, the visitors extended their lead to five goals, with Moreno volleying in at the back post, once again assisted by Watkins.
United then made a double substitution, bringing on Robinson and Osborn. Bogle came close to scoring with a dipping angled volley.
Tom Davies was given some playing time from the bench, and Foderingham made a smart save to deny Diaby. Ahmedhodzic and Robinson were both denied by brilliant saves at the other end.
Substitute Morgan Rogers missed a chance to score on his Villa debut late in the game.
Sheffield United continued to push until the end, with Archer’s effort blocked by Lenglet and Hamer’s attempt saved by Martinez. In added time, Souza appeared to score his first United goal, but after a lengthy VAR review, it was ruled out, marking the end of the game.
It was an embarrassing showing from the Blades, something that has become a concerning regular occurrence this campaign.
After the match, Chris Wilder reacted to the horrendous showing:
“No consolation that it was one after half time. Well and truly beaten, no hiding place out there. We have to take the criticism from our supporters.
“I get that people will say we didn’t lay a glove on them. First and second balls we were second best, but we were second best all afternoon.
“This can happen, you can get put to bed, especially when you’ve got a young side out there. That I picked, so I’ve gotta take that as well.”
Many supporters have quite fairly thrown the towel in and are hopeful of the Blades making a successful rebuild in the off-season. With over 10 player’s out of contract in the summer, the summer transfer window will be far from easy.