Why Matt Kilgallon thinks Sheffield United struggled this season - and what his old club have to do to bounce back after relegation

As a member of the Sheffield United class of 2006/07, Matt Kilgallon knows full well the experience of being relegated from the Premier League.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 4:50 pm

Admittedly, United’s return to the Championship this season came in different circumstances to 14 years ago, when a last-day defeat to Wigan Athletic – and West Ham’s improbable win at Old Trafford – conspired to relegate the Blades.

But Paul Heckingbottom’s men will feel no better about their fate being secured with six games left to play, equalling the joint-earliest relegation in Premier League history.

“They’ll be gutted,” Kilgallon said.

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“They’re out of the Premier League, the best league in the world. But if you asked them all the question, were they going to go down, I’m sure they’d have all said yes.

“They’ve struggled this season. I don’t know if it’s the lack of crowd or people working out how they’ve played, but it’s been on the cards for a long time and the teams near them have started to pick up points.

“It is sad, they’ll be gutted, and it will hurt. But they’ve got a great chance of bouncing back.”

Matt Kilgallon reacts after Sheffield United's relegation from the Premier League back in 2007 -

Kilgallon was only a few months into his Blades career when they were relegated in 2007, having made the move to Bramall Lane in January from his hometown club Leeds United.

In the season that followed he was a member of a squad packed with talent, and led by Bryan Robson, that nevertheless failed to bounce back at the first attempt.

The closest they came was defeat to Burnley in the play-off final in 2009, and it wasn’t until 2019 that United finally returned to the promised land.

“The Championship is a hard, hard league,” Kilgallon added, speaking to Sky Sports.

“There’s a lot of games, on Saturday and Tuesday and it’s non-stop travelling at times.

“But if they keep that squad, they’ve got a chance.

“You’ve got to get all the lads thinking it’s not going to be easy, they’ve got to say: ‘We can do this if everyone is 100 per cent into it’.

“You can’t just turn up. But the squad they have, they should be able to do it. It’s just all about the attitude now.”