Alan Biggs: Buoyant Sheffield United can look towards Championship top half least

Chris Wilder has shown only excitement and no fear about the Championship challenge ahead
Chris Wilder has shown only excitement and no fear about the Championship challenge ahead
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Let’s cut right to the chase. Top half. It’s my tip for Sheffield United this season.

And if even that sounds a bit woolly, well, it’s a reasonably bold statement of confidence in a newly promoted team and, dare I say, well above acceptable.

From what I can discern, United will be bottom half in the wages budget table, without complaint from anyone.

So anything above bottom three on the field will be achievement realistically.

So, top half? Guessing most Blades fan would take it right-away.

But you’d guess a few still wouldn’t because a taste of success creates a thirst for more and the promotion impetus behind a club of United’s size is considerable. The beauty of it, too, is that no-one has a clear idea of how they will fare at the higher level. And how could we?

The bookies are hedging their bets, putting Chris Wilder’s men in middle ground and that’s probably the safest prediction.

At the same time, 9/1 or thereabouts on winning promotion is quite short odds for a team in discovery mode.

The betting companies regard the bigger outfits a little differently to smaller ones and with some justification historically.

They know that, with large support, these clubs can get on a roll. It’s also why I’m going top half but not the only reason.

United’s turnaround under Wilder and Alan Knill has been more a hurricane than a mere wind of change.

The force is still very much with them from last season when they surged to 100 points with 92 goals.

It’s the same group with reinforcements and belief in that dressing room is total.

Respect for the division? Yes. But fear? Completely absent.

You can always look behind words of bravado and sense when apprehension is present. I detect none whatsoever from the manager and players. Only excitement and confidence.

There will be better squads in terms of ability on paper, of course there will be, and maybe a good dozen and more of them. But very few can match United for momentum or the kind of buoyancy from fans that will greet visitors to Bramall Lane.

A second season at higher level can be a different, more exacting proposition.

But Wilder will be determined to turn the first into a free hit – how high can we go? – and that means taking the chance, if it appears, to really push those contenders for the top six.

There are those who’d tell you it’s too early or ideally opportune for United to be doing this and logically they might be right.

But opportunities have to be taken when they happen and Wilder won’t countenance a mindset of simply avoiding relegation.

Let’s see where that takes them.