Sheffield United: The most significant moment of the win over Bolton Wanderers came an hour before kick-off

Bolton Wanderers manager Phil Parkinson: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire.
Bolton Wanderers manager Phil Parkinson: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire.

As he made his way back to the dressing room for the half-time interval, Bolton Wanderers manager Phil Parkinson could reflect upon a job well done.

Although his side had offered little going forward, they had frustrated a Sheffield United team battling for promotion at the opposite end of the table. So far, the visiting players and their coaching staff thought, so good.

But as he sat down to analyse events during the opening period, Parkinson was also hiding some doubts. Moments earlier, as Wanderers trooped down the tunnel, they had passed several members of Chris Wilder's squad who had spent the opening 45 minutes watching from the bench.

"When we see the strength in depth Chris has got, what he's been able to put together, that tells you all you need to know about the top of the division," Steve Parkin, Parkinson's assistant and Wilder's good friend, said. "The options on there, the quality and the experience, were excellent. All credit to them for being able to do what they've done."

Despite the eventual outcome, goals from David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp firing United to a 2-0 win, the most significant moment of the afternoon came an hour before kick-off. When the team sheets were delivered to Bramall Lane's media suite, the sight of Gary Madine, Kieran Dowell and new signing Scott Hogan featuring among United's substitutes confirmed the quality of options now at Wilder's disposal following a carefully orchestrated transfer window.

There is strength in depth but more importantly, with Richard Stearman, Marvin Johnson, Simon Moore and John Lundstram completing his list of replacements, depth of quality and experience.

"It's not a nice feeling," Parkin continued, dissecting a result which saw United finish the weekend in third, 20 places above Wanderers. "But we've got to show character, keep on going, and try to make sure the lads don't get too down.

“Chris, for different reasons, will be relaying a similar message to his boys; just to take it one game at a time and focus on the next one coming up, nothing else."