Sheffield United centre-back Ben Davies has admitted the Blades need to be picking up ‘six or seven’ points per week if they want to get back to the Premier League at the first time of asking, revealing this challenge to The Star.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s side endured a torrid start to the 2021/22 campaign, picking up from where they left out from the previous season and winning just two points from a possible 15 in their opening five games before the last international break.
After bringing in three more recruits on loan in Conor Hourihane, Morgan Gibbs-White and Robin Olsen in the latter stages of the previous window, on top of Davies from former Premier League champions Liverpool, their form has dramatically improved and they now sit 11th in the table after going unbeaten in their last four games, with only a last-minute equaliser from Emil Riis preventing the Blades from taking 12 points from a possible 12.
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However, three of their main promotion rivals in AFC Bournemouth, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion have all made quick starts to the 2021/22 campaign and it could be a tall order to catch them if the latter two start turning frustrating draws into vital victories.
The Blades are in a good spell of form at the moment though and will have their tails up after scoring a late penalty against Derby County at the weekend to claim two more precious points in their quest to chase their competitors.
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Amid this form, Ben Davies has set a daunting but honest challenge to his teammates at the South Yorkshire side, saying: “We know the Championship’s a tough relentless league and we’ve done well in the last few weeks to get on a positive run.
“Now we need to continue it because the start we had, we need to be picking six or seven points up a week. The target is still to get promoted back to the Premier League.
“We had a difficult start so we’re catching up but that’s why it’s important to keep this run going as long as we can.
“It’s pleasing to see games through, we need to manage games better when we take the lead late on but the Championship is never easy and each team is a threat until the end. We know it’s not going to be comfortable or easy.
“We’ve got a good bit of form but there’s an important week now, we’re playing catchup after the bad start so we have to keep the momentum going.”
The fact Sheffield United are still aiming for a return to the Premier League should come as a surprise to no one. It’s still very early days in the season and you can tell they are starting to get into their stride now.
With the likes of Conor Hourihane and Morgan Gibbs-White in midfield, there’s every chance they could pick up that six or seven-point weekly target Davies has set – but the duo’s fitness and the availability of other key players could be key in whether they can get back to the Premier League.
They certainly can with a promotion-winning manager like Slavisa Jokanovic at the helm, but they just need to be wary of their lack of depth in central defence and ability to potentially become one-dimensional going forward.
The attacking intent of the likes of George Baldock and Rhys Norrington-Davies will have a positive impact out wide and will help to compensate for their lack of orthodox wingers – but Jokanovic’s side may need a few reinforcements in January if they want to seal their return to the top flight.
You can tell the summer arrivals have made a big impact, so another injection of fresh legs in the winter wouldn’t go amiss.