Date:Thursday March 5 2009
Lenny367 takes a look at this weekend`s opponents Sheffield United as they look to continue and impressive away record in W12.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Founded: 22 March 1889
Nickname: The Blades
Ground: Bramall Lane - 32609
Manager: Kevin Blackwell
League Division One Champions: 1897/98
League Division One Runner Up: 1896/97, 1899/00
League Division Two (now Championship) Champions: 1952/53
League Division Two (now Championship) Runner Up: 1892/93,1938/39,1960/61,1970/71, 1989/90,2005/06
FA Cup: Winners 1899,1902,1915,1925
FA Cup Runner Up: 1901,1936
Record Attendance: 68,287 v Leeds (FA Cup, 1936)
Record victory: 11-2 v Cardiff City (1926)
Record defeat: 0 - 13 v Bolton Wanderers (FA Cup, 1890)
Record Buy: James Beattie - £4.0 million from Everton
Record Sale: Phil Jagielka - £4.0 Million to Everton
Record Appearances: Joe Shaw - 631
Record Goals: Harry Johnson - 201
At the end of the 1990's Nigel Spackman, Steve Bruce and Adrian Heath all had spells as manager, with Heath lasting just nineteen games, resigning in late 1999 with United staring relegation to Division 3 in the face. The man appointed to turn things around at Bramall Lane was the lifelong Blades fan, Neil Warnock.
Warnock's arrival brought about an immediate and dramatic improvement in form. Relegation fears were banished from the minds of all Blades fans as a run of good results saw United climb the table and although they couldn`t keep up the momentum they still ended the season in a healthier looking 16th place.
During the summer that followed the board made it clear to Warnock that the financial stabilisation of the club was their immediate priority, which meant that he was in the familiar position of having limited funds available to strengthen his squad.
It was not until 2002/3 that the club were able to mount a serious promotion challenge, finishing third in the league to give them a play-off place, and reaching the semi-finals of both the League and FA Cups. However, the season that went so well ended in sadness as United lost 3-0 to Wolves in the play-off final, after goals from Kennedy, Blake and Miller saw the Wolves race into an early first half lead that proved to be unassailable.
Frustratingly for the Sheffield faithful the team then finished just outside the play offs for the next couple of seasons, and the fans became restless, having fully believed that the play off defeat would be a springboard to better things. They began calling for Warnock`s head, but the board stood by their man despite immense pressure.
Their faith was rewarded in 2005/6 when the team started the season in spectacular fashion winning ten of their first eleven games and leading the division until late November when Reading pushed them into second place. They held that position for the rest of the season thereby returning to the Premiership after a twelve-year absence without the need of the play offs.
Of course the season in the Premiership that ended in relegation will long be remembered for the Tevez saga but one match in particular will live long in the memories of Blades fans. Leading Arsenal by a solitary goal keeper Paddy Kenny was taken off injured and replaced between the sticks by skipper Phil Jagielka, who pulled off several stunning saves as the Blades hung on for an unlikely victory.
Warnock left at the end of that season and was replaced by Bryan Robson, who spent a lot of money assembling a team to take United straight back up but they failed to mount anything near resembling a title challenge and so Robson was soon replaced by Warnock`s former assistant Kevin Blackwell on 14th February 2008. He did an incredible job following his appointment and on the last day of the season his team were still in with a shout of making the play offs. Defeat against Southampton ended those dreams but the team still finished 9th a mere 4 points shy of the play offs.
This season United are once again on the promotion chase as they currently trail 2nd place Birmingham by 6 points but have a game in hand.
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Date:Thursday March 5 2009
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