Alan Biggs: Why Sheffield United could do with being a little quicker

Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd and assistant Alan Knill
Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd and assistant Alan Knill
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Pace. Everyone wants it. By its very nature, it’s hard to track down.

And if you were to really nit-pick on Sheffield United last season - and I mean to a microscopic degree - then you’d have found slightly less springiness than you’d want in an ideal world.

Certainly, it was a quality close to the top of the list when it came to summer recruitment and already the Blades look to have more of that extra edge.

First and foremost, it was two outstanding wing backs, Kieron Freeman and Daniel Lafferty, who gave Chris Wilder’s 3-5-2 system the thrust to be an attacking unit last season.

Newly acquired George Baldock will add to that.

Assistant manager Alan Knill ponders the pace question in general and comes up with two other recruits, Ched Evans and especially former Hartlepool winger Nathan Thomas, plus Caolan Lavery, for whom this could be an exciting season, and also Leon Clarke who, despite nearing the veteran stage, is certainly no slouch.

And then there’s David Brooks.

The young England midfield-attacker is the wild card in United’s re-entry to the Championship.

It’s not just for show that Brooks, the subject of a premature link with Everton, was withdrawn from a loan to compete for the first team.

Existing members of the senior squad are the best judges of that, according to the Bramall Lane management.

Knill explains: “With young players you always see how the first team players react to them and they have really taken to David, really trust him in possession. And he’s getting better out of possession. He’s got a real chance.

“David’s a really good lad who’s progress has been massive.

“It’s down to him; he’s got the talent. We want to see him develop for us and play for us.”

Similarly, but with a massive difference in stage of career, the returning Evans has been urged to nail down a regular place, rather than being merely a challenger, which some will have viewed as his likely status when he was re-signed from Chesterfield.

“He’s come to start, not be a bit-part player,” is Knill’s emphatic response.

“He has a great attitude, works hard and wants to do well. Any player we sign we sign to start, or have a chance to start.”

And, as indicated here last week, United will stick with the bold, attacking style of last season despite being new to the ultra-competitive world of the Championship.

Knill, a long-time resident of this city, made that clear on my Sheffield Live show, saying: “Chris (Wilder) is a Blade and we knew the brand of football that was expected.

“The brand we played last year, we’ll go again. Without a doubt.

“That’s the way we play and I think it’s the way people want to see us play, not being cautious and sitting back. We may have to be a little bit more careful but once we’re going forward we’re going forward.

“We’re not leaving loads of players back just in case we get countered.

“We’re going to try and win the games.”