FORMER Welsh international Rob Page has issued a stark warning to Sheffield United as the big kick-off draws ever closer.
Page, who hung up his boots in March, believes the Blades face an uphill task in trying to plot a course out of League One at the first attempt.
The centre-back, who spent three years of his illustrious career at Bramall Lane, told The Star: “It is a shame to see the club struggling as they are and I don’t think it is going to be as easy as people are making out for them to get back into the Championship.
“I think it is going to be a difficult, long road for them but hopefully one day they will come out the other side a better club. At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any stability there.”
The 36-year-old, capped 41 times by his country before retiring from international football in 2006, hopes the club can be involved in the promotion shake-up come next May.
“They have to aim for promotion because the longer they are down in the lower leagues, the harder it is to get back up,” said Page, who still lives in Sheffield.
“If they spend the money they have got from player sales wisely, then I don’t see why they can’t be pushing for the play-offs.”
While United will have to adjust to their new surroundings in the third tier of English football, Page is attempting to make the transition from player to youth team coach at Port Vale. It is the second time he has teamed up with Micky Adams, having previously worked with him at Coventry City,
Page has launched a staunch defence of Adams’ managerial credentials following his ill-fated stint at United, insisting: “He was on a hiding to nothing.
“It is difficult when you have to rely on loan signings because they are not emotionally attached to the football club so it is a difficult situation.
“Years ago, players played for pride whereas now they play more for pound signs.”
Two fixtures Page has pencilled in his diary are the Steel City derbies. United will host Sheffield Wednesday in October while the return date will take place in February.
Page, who played in two of the mouth-watering showdowns, said: “I had heard about the hype and how big an occasion it is and it didn’t disappoint.
“Sheffield fans are so passionate about football. The atmosphere in both matches was electric. They were definitely up there with some of the best games I played in my career.”
I can understand why Huddersfield are favourites to go up because they went on a phenomenal run last year and were unfortunate to miss out. They have a young, ambitious manager and a chairman who wants success.
Preston and Scunthorpe could do well and I wouldn’t back against Chesterfield or Bournemouth from surprising a few people.
Tommy Miller will do well for himself at Huddersfield, who are a team who like to get the ball down and play.
I saw Jordan Slew a couple of times for United last season and I was really impressed with him. It is a great positive for them that they have managed to keep hold of him.
In an ideal scenario, Jordan will score 20 to 25 goals to fire United back into the Championship and then sell him for millions. Whether he does that or not is down to him.
His preparation and approach to the game have to be right. I’m sure if he plays to his strengths then there is no reason why he can’t go on and score goals and make a name for himself.
There was a lot of optimism around them last season and they had a tough year. It is not easy to get out of this league.
If there is any manager who can steady the ship at Wednesday, it is Gary Megson. He has gone in and made good signings who knows the division inside out. You have to buy wisely at that level. Whether they will get promotion or not, I don’t know.
They have got a manager who will not accept underachievement. I have not worked with him personally but having watched him throughout my career, I know what he is like and he will not accept failure.