Every pre-season football magazine, When Saturday Comes, asks one contributor from each club to summarise last season and preview the coming one.
They also have to predict the final table in their division, so it may come as no surprise that the League One correspondents collectively picked United to finish top of the table, in front of Preston and Peterborough.
One of the questions asks for clubs ‘liked’ and ‘disliked’. United were picked once in each category; the Hull City fan liked us ‘after they nearly did us in the FA Cup semi final’, whilst the Colchester United correspondent reckoned we ‘still seem to think League One is beneath them … just embrace being a fallen giant and move on’. His first point is a matter of opinion, but as for the second – fallen giant? I suppose you could say United were giants of the game for a few years from 1897, but since…. We would love to be a fallen giant instead of the biggest underachievers in English football.
Everything is relative, of course, and compared with Rochdale and Colchester, Sheffield United must appear rather large.
No club at this level can match United’s resources, but both, like many teams we have seen in this division, proved that a collection of no-names (with respect to them) can, with astute management, be moulded into a competitive, skilful side.
Nigel Clough needs to be equally astute, regardless of the supposed higher quality of his players, to overcome a succession of opponents who have scant regard for historical reputation.
Whether history or size had anything to do with United’s unlikely comeback at Colchester is doubtful, but I bet that Colchester fan likes us even less now..
Incidentally, the most disliked club amongst League One fans last season was by some distance Rotherham United. Nothing to do with the team, I suspect.