THEY threatened to blaze a trail through the division by combining eye-catching football with a devastating ruthlessness in front of goal.
But Danny Wilson, whose side came within a whisker of securing promotion last season, has conceded that Sheffield United are ready to upset the purists should the situation demand next term.
Yes, he insisted, the South Yorkshire club will try and entertain.
However, suggestions that United are in danger of favouring style over substance received an emphatic ‘no’ when they were put to their manager ahead of one of the most important summers in the recent history of Bramall Lane.
“The type of players we have will determine how we go about things,” Wilson told The Star.
“I think the fans appreciated what we tried to do last season and how we went about our business.
“We scored 90-odd goals and tried to express ourselves whenever possible.
“Of course, that’s exactly what we’ll try and do again.
“But the most important thing about the type of football you play is that it’s got to be winning football.
“That’s what the people who come to watch us appreciate the most.”
United’s ability to replace striker Ched Evans, whose imprisonment in April was the major factor behind their failure to clinch a top-two finish, will have a critical bearing on how Wilson sets up his team.
Whether United can retain he services of Kevin McDonald, the former Scotland under-21 international midfielder, also threatens to influence his plans.
McDonald won admirers across the division by producing a series of accomplished displays en route to last month’s League One play-off final before a hamstring injury sustained during the semi-final with Stevenage prevented him from facing Huddersfield Town.
Together with Lee Williamson and Chris Porter, McDonald was offered a new contract when his previous deal expired but has yet to reveal whether he will accept.
“We want people who are comfortable on the ball,” Wilson said.
“Because we want our players to be able to express themselves.
“But there are also times when you must dig in.”
Despite acknowledging a striker, centre-half and full-back” are his top transfer priorities ahead of August’s Capital One Cup tie against Burton Albion, Wilson also hopes to address the lack of depth which forced United to tear up their tactics book for the meeting with Town.
Having agreed a recruitment budget with his board of directors, Wilson would ideally prefer to have the core of his squad in place before United head to Malta for warm weather training on July 20.
Talks have been held with the island’s Football Association aimed at arranging friendlies with local opposition during the week-long stay. However, United could delay announcing who they will face until the first rounds of Champions League (CL) and Europa League (EL) qualifying are concluded.
The winner of Valletta’s CL clash with Andorra’s FC Lusitans will face FK Partizan of Serbia on July 17/18 and 24/25 with EL hopefuls Hibernians, Floriana and Birkirkara paired against FC Sarajevo, IF Elfsborg and FK Metalurg Skopje respectively.
United return to England on July 27.
Balzan Youths and Sliema Wanderers, who entertained Wilson’s charges at Ta’Qali 12 months ago, have also been put forward for consideration.
All six featured in the championship round of the BOV Maltese Premier League last season.
Wilson said: “We get a lot out of going to Malta and we’ve got strong links with the island now as a club.
“It’s hard work. The one thing we always know is that it’s going to be bloomin’ hot for the lads out there so quite often we have to train early in the morning.
“But it’s worth it in the end.”