Sheffield United: Blades fan leader fears Yorkshire derby pile-up

Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough.
Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough.
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There promises to be a Yorkshire feel to League One next season.

Having recently lost their survival fights, Doncaster Rovers and Barnsley will be competing alongside Sheffield United and Bradford City in the third-tier of English football when the new campaign gets underway on August 9.

The quartet could also be joined by Rotherham United and York City, depending on how they fare in their respective play-off bids. If you throw League Two champions Chesterfield into the mix as well, supporters have got plenty of local matches to look forward to.

However, Peter Whitney, the chairman of Sheffield United Supporters’ Club Executive, is concerned this may harm the Blades’ automatic promotion hopes.

“We have got a number of local derbies we will have to play next year which will not make the task [promotion] any easier,” Whitney told The Star. “The form book goes out of the window in derbies.

“Everyone of them will be a battle. Everybody is up for it from the players to the fans. It is about who performs better on the day.

“I love derbies and like the fact that local bragging rights are up for grabs but they make the possibility of promotion tougher.”

In Whitney’s eyes, there is one big positive to United playing more sides who are in close proximity to them.

“At least there will be a lot less travelling and expense for the fans,” he said.

After watching United finish seventh following their 2-1 triumph over Coventry City last weekend, fan leader Whitney admits it’s been a “rollercoaster season” for the Bramall Lane outfit, who dispensed with David Weir’s services last October and replaced him with Nigel Clough.

“David [Weir] was well-schooled at the top level of football, playing internationally for Scotland and in the Premier League,” said Whitney. “We all thought it could be a good appointment. He was new to the management game but he came with no baggage.

“We started off with a good win over Notts County and we struggled to build on it and unfortunately David had to go.

“Nigel [Clough] came in and we had a few poor results, like the 3-0 defeat against Crewe Alexandra. That defeat seemed to wake us up and since then we have done magnificently well. We had the FA Cup run, which you could only dream about, and we finished on a marvellous high by going eight matches unbeaten. The fans are cock-a-hoop going into the summer and that will only help with season ticket sales.

“Nigel has done a great job, making us extremely difficult to beat and, with a couple of quality additions, we could be there or thereabouts next season.”