Sheffield United: Rivals back The Blades to be one of the teams to beat in the Championship this season

Russell Martin, the Swansea City manager, believes Sheffield United are destined to challenge for promotion this season despite making a subdued start to the new Championship campaign.

Sunday, 15th August 2021, 11:00 am

Seven days after losing their opening game under Slavisa Jokanovic, United secured their first point since welcoming the Serb to Bramall Lane last month when they drew 0-0 at the Liberty Stadium.

Martin, who also lost his first match in charge of the hosts, was the happier of the two managers following Saturday’s contest, which saw both side’s struggle to translate possession into clear cut opportunities.

But he admitted his perception of the result had been coloured by the fact he expects United to grow in stature when they begin to grasp Joanovic’s methods and ideas.

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Russell Martin: Warren Little/Getty Images

“I think there were a lot of positives to take,” Martin, previously of MK Dons, said. “The players went out and played the way we asked them to.

“We limited them to very little but we didn’t have much in the final third. But the players are doing brilliantly and they deserve a lot of credit. They did really well and delivered against a team that, for me, will be right up there at the end of the season.”

Jamal Lowe and David McGoldrick enjoyed the two best chances of a fixture high on energy but low on end product.

Flynn Downes, who was making his debut for City after completing a £1.5m move from Ipswich Town, also predicted United will be among the teams to beat in the division as they attempt to recover from being relegated last term.

“For me, we’ve just played a Premier League team,” Downes said. “They were up there earlier this year, not to long ago, and they haven’t really changed any players. So, for me, that’s what they are.”

“I thought we did really well, because we didn’t really give them much at all,” he added. “And they’re a good side, make no mistake about that. They’ll get better, and I think that’s what will happen to us as well. In fact, I’m certain of it. I think they’ll be some explosive moments here.”