Clubs of similar size have been known to win back-to-back promotions from the third tier to the Premier League in recent years. Southampton and Norwich, for instance.
Sheffield United themselves did it between 1988 and 1990.
I’m not daring to predict that the Blades will take the higher division by storm. But the history books, and the manner of the bounce-back so far, do explain why Chris Wilder has set an open-ended approach to the club’s first Championship campaign in seven years.
It would be brave or foolhardy – probably both – to set a public target in the manner of last season. No-one knows what to expect, beyond the reasonable hope that United will not be fighting to stay up. Clubs of their size tend to benefit from momentum more than smaller ones.
That’s also why Wilder will order no change to the mentality of last season when sheer ebullience and belief took over the place. There’s a difference between apprehension and a natural element of caution.
I suspect the Blades boss will trust by his instinct to “go for it” as before and see where that takes the team.
Let’s not forget that, besides amassing 100 points, United scored 92 goals last season at an average of exactly two per game. Or that clean sheets abounded from a tremendous collective effort at both ends of the field.
From the core of that team, with news players added, United will not be lacking confidence for the challenge ahead, that’s for sure.
Wilder sums up: “The Championship is a tough, relentless, ruthless league. We’ll have to be at it every week to get results. But we’re looking forward to it. With momentum behind us, we’ll have a go for it every week.”
David Brooks is one really going for it. Player of the tournament for the England Under 20s in Toulon, then withdrawn from an agreed loan to Chesterfield to compete for senior involvement at Bramall Lane and now, hey presto, reportedly a target for Premier League Everton.
That last bit is all too familiar following Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s move last summer. And you’d have to say it all adds up considering Everton’s policy to buy and develop young talent and the presence of two ex-Blades in their youth department, David Unsworth and Jamie Hoyland.
On his recent Sheffield Live appearance with me, Hoyland rated Brooks a “good player” who “plays in that hole between the lines ...drifts, goes past people and can pick a pass.” At the time, Brooks was heading for a loan which Hoyland felt would “toughen up” a young player, 20 next month, who “still looks 14 or 15” and had “not developed physically.”
David Hirst, whose son George was a Brooks team-mate in Toulon, watched the whole tournament and rated the United prospect “superb”, adding: “I think Chris Wilder will be delighted to have him involved in his squad, have a good look at him pre-season and make a decision from there.”
Beyond that, I think we all hope United reap an on-field benefit from their latest exciting product.