Promotion hero James McAtee reflects on Sheffield United spell after Man City return

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James McAtee, the Manchester City youngster, has admitted he “found himself” during his loan spell at Sheffield United last season, in which he helped the Blades back into the Premier League.

The highly-rated England U21 international has earned the chance to impress Pep Guardiola and join City's treble-winners in pre-season after a successful spell in South Yorkshire, which saw him recover from a difficult start to establish himself as a key member of the Blades' promotion-winning squad.

United initially hoped to work with McAtee again next season in the top-flight, but Guardiola is keen to have a look at the 20-year-old in pre-season before deciding whether to keep him in the building as City look to defend their titles on three fronts.

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And McAtee admitted he began life at United, in his first senior loan spell, "with the wrong mentality".

“Thinking: ‘I’ve done well all through my academy life and I’ll just do well again'," he added. "It wasn’t like that at all, I had to step up another level and get used to the different style of play and the physicality of men’s football.

“I feel like I found myself at United. I found the way I want to play and how I want to affect games. On the pitch I definitely feel like I’ve grown up and it was the first time I’ve moved out as well when I went to Sheffield.

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"I’ve definitely grown up off the pitch, so it’s been a great experience. Hopefully it can help me out in the long run.”

*The Star’s coverage of Sheffield United’s pre-season trip to Portugal is brought to you in association with Vertical Editions, a Sheffield-based company producing fine sporting books. Check out their range of Blades titles, including Legends at the Lane, at

One of the main memories McAtee will take with him is of the 'Greasy Chip Butty' song being belted out at kick-off, home or away. "The fans were great," he added.

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"When I first went I didn’t think it was going to be sold out. But, especially at the start of the game when they sing that song, I thought it was an amazing atmosphere.

“It really gets you up for it and it’s definitely different to playing for the under-23s. I know how I want to play now. I know how I can affect games and the mentality once get a lead or get a goal back to either push on or play a bit safe.

“I think my game management has improved a lot being at Sheffield United."

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