Sheffield United endured a disappointing night on Tuesday, as they were beaten 2-0 by Middlesbrough at The Riverside Stadium.
First half goals from Duncan Watmore and Paddy McNair were enough to secure all three points for ‘Boro, easing some of the pressure on manager Neil Warnock.
That result also ended Sheffield United’s five match uneaten run in the Championship, leaving them 12th in the Championship standings, four points off the top spots.
This defeat therefore, will no doubt have given Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic plenty to think about.
So with that in mind, we’ve taken a look here, at three things we learnt about the Blades from their performance and result against ‘Boro.
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A corner not fully turned just yet
After a poor start to the season in the wake of their relegation from the Premier League, things had started to look up for Sheffield United in recent weeks.
The Blades had taken 11 points from their last five league games heading into this match, after picking up just one in their opening four games prior to that, leaving them playing catch up in the promotion race they are expected to be part of.
This however, was a reminder to the Blades that even though they may be starting to find their feet again, they are still beatable at Championship level, and will have to be on their game to maintain their more promising recent form.
A missed opportunity
While Sheffield United had gone into Tuesday’s clash at The Riverside on the back of some decent form, it is probably fair to say that Middlesbrough had not.
Neil Warnock’s side went in to the game having won just one of their last seven games, losing four in that time, a run which had seen them start the evening 18th in the Championship table.
Given Sheffield United’s wins this season have come against clubs currently battling relegation in the early stages of the season – Hull, Peterborough and Derby – the fact they could not get three points off another side at the wrong end of the table, may feel like a this was a chance that has now come and gone.
A bad night in central midfield
One area of the pitch where Sheffield United did seem to struggle against Middlesbrough, was central midfield.
Once again it was John Fleck and Oliver Norwood who took up those holding roles in the centre of the park, but both would struggle to make an impact on the game, with the latter substituted at half time to be replaced by the more attacking David McGoldrick, as the Blades searched a way back into the match.
As a result, with Jokanovic’s side failing to take control in the centre of the park here, it seems the prospective return of Sander Berge from injury to add some more influence in that position, will certainly be welcome for Sheffield United when it happens.