Sheffield United fans may be in a state of panic after their team were beaten 1-0 away from home by Blackburn Rovers at the weekend. Nevertheless, the Blades are still in a very strong position to get promoted this season.
Despite the defeat, United are four points clear of the team in third – Middlesbrough – and they also have a game in hand over each team in the playoff places.
However, this does not mean Sheffield United can rest on their laurels. Every team in the playoff places won their games at the weekend – Blackburn are one of them.
Middlesbrough won very convincingly at the weekend, demolishing Paul Ince’s Reading by a score of 5-0. Boro completely trounced the Royals, who could not even fire off a shot on target in response.
Additionally, the other two teams in the playoffs, Luton Town and Norwich City, were also victorious. Luton ran out as 1-0 winners over a lacklustre Swansea City outfit, while Norwich defeated fellow promotion hopefuls Millwall in a five-goal thriller. Despite a late fightback from the Lions, Norwich held firm and moved into sixth.
Currently, there seems to be little chance for Luton or Norwich to catch Sheffield United, though. The Blades’ main threats are Middlesbrough and Blackburn – they are currently four and six points clear of them, respectively.
Ultimately, despite not being at their best during this run of games, United’s strong start to the season will likely be enough to see them through. The Blades have some tough games coming up – including a match with Luton and an away game against league leaders Burnley.
Additionally, United also have the matter of the FA Cup to contend with – they will need to be on top of their game to ensure that their focus does not shift too far in the direction of short-term success.
Ultimately, it comes down to this – next season, Sheffield United could be playing against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, or they could be playing against Rotherham United and Hull City. But which will it be?