3 September ~ Going into today's home game against Bury, Sheffield United find themselves third in League One, one of three teams on 13 points. To the neutral, this may not seem an unexpected position for a newly relegated club, with a relatively strong squad and plenty of Championship experience. Yet, for most Blades fans, this is both pleasing and relatively surprising following relegation turmoil and a summer of disgruntlement following the appointment of Danny Wilson.
The mood of those car park warriors (whose vocal chants could be heard throughout the press conference announcing Wilson's arrival) will certainly have softened over the first few games. The only points dropped so far came in an away draw at Tranmere and our only defeat in a Carling Cup tie at Everton where we took a 1-0 lead. These results, aligned with a noticeable attempt to change the style of play, mean there are plenty of grounds for optimism.
Although the loss of academy product Jordan Slew, right at the close of the transfer window, is a blow, the seven-figure fee paid by Blackburn will help considerably as the club adjusts its wage structure and cost base. It is also a sizeable fee for a player with a raw and exciting talent, but who is still in need of a lot of coaching and discipline.
What the fans have seen as being more important is that the club have kept hold of experienced midfielders Nick Montgomery and Stephen Quinn. Montgomery's injury, picked up last weekend at Yeovil, will have prevented his departure, while it was reported that high six-figure bids from Championship clubs for Quinn were firmly rejected. Both have been important figures in early games and the fact that both players, previously maligned by sections of the Bramall Lane support, are viewed as important perhaps highlights the Blades' decline.
Since taking over, Wilson has quietly gone about his job with little fuss – successfully combining youth and experience in a team that are encouraged to bring the ball out of defence and move it quickly around the pitch. Mistakes have been made – something Wilson has acknowledged – but thankfully most have gone unpunished by the opposition. Sometime soon those errors will be seized upon. However, having a winning mentality while still not playing to your full potential is a decent position to be in and hopefully those mistakes can be eradicated quickly.
Five league games in and most Blades fans are quietly satisfied, but would agree that the real time to assess the impact of Wilson on United is at the end of October. By then the first third-tier Sheffield derby for 30 years will have been played and Charlton, Preston and MK Dons will have provided stern challenges. Until then we would happily take more of the same – starting today. Ian Rands