Sheffield United legend Dave Bassett fires warning over strength of Championship next season; Expects Middlesbrough, Swansea and Cardiff to challenge

After finishing ninth in the Premier League, in their first season back in the top flight in 12 years, Sheffield United surprised many observers by being relegated in their second. Amongst those who didn’t see it coming was their legendary former manager, Dave Bassett.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 12:07 pm

“No-one in their right senses thought that the season would pan out how it did,” Bassett, who led United to the top-flight during his time in charge at Bramall Lane, told The Star.

“I thought they might end up similar or a bit lower, with a bit of that ‘second season syndrome’ people talk about. But I certainly didn’t see them getting relegated with the players there.

“In my view, though, Fulham and West Brom went down with more of a whimper than Sheffield United

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“People will think I’m off my head, because United finished bottom. But if you ask the other managers in the Premier League, they would have said that United were harder to beat than Fulham and West Brom. That’s how I look at it, anyway.”

Those two sides are the bookies’ favourites to make an instant return to the top-flight, with United – under new boss Slavisa Jokanović – also in the mix, along with last season’s beaten play-off finalists Swansea.

“The last game of the season, at home to Fulham, could be like a cup final in terms of promotion,” Bassett added.

Dave Bassett pictured in 1994, in his days as Sheffield United manager

“The expectation will be there for Sheffield United and Fulham, and there are a lot of other decent teams.

“West Brom have made a bold move, taking the boy from Barnsley [Valérien Ismaël] – he did brilliantly there, and best of luck to him at West Brom.

“They’ll be expecting to do well, like a lot of other teams. Middlesbrough have spent a lot of money, Cardiff will want to get promoted. There’s no reason Swansea won’t challenge again, Bournemoouth will.

“I think the Championship could be a bit harder this season than it has been in the previous two, personally, so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes.”

United’s relegation, after two seasons in the Premier League, means no-one has yet emulated Bassett’s feat of keeping United in the top-flight for four consecutive seasons since the mid-1970s.