Hull City manager Grant McCann has admitted yesterday’s opponents Sheffield United have ‘come on leaps and bounds’ in recent games, speaking to the Sheffield Star post-match after the Tigers’ 3-1 defeat.
The Blades were sitting in 23rd going into the last international break, winning just two points from a possible fifteen in their opening five league games, scoring just once and only keeping a single clean sheet during that time.
However, they have won seven points from nine since then, winning 6-2 against Peterborough United, being held to a 2-2 draw against Preston after Emil Riis’ last-minute equaliser and winning 3-1 against Grant McCann’s side at the weekend.
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Billy Sharp opened the scoring in the 17th minute before a John Egan brace all but sealed the game by the 61st minute at the MKM Stadium, before Southampton-linked winger Keane Lewis-Potter pulled one back for the hosts.
This was a game Blades manager Slavisa Jokanovic wasn’t happy with despite the scoreline, saying they lacked a ‘killing spirit’ against the Tigers and may have been punished by sides at the right end of the Championship table, with yesterday’s home side down in 23rd place.
Despite this, McCann gave a more generous review of his opponents after putting the game to bed just after the hour mark, saying to the Sheffield Star: “I am disappointed, yes, even though we played against a team that is getting better every week.
“They (Sheffield United) have come on leaps and bounds recently, as everyone has seen. They have some very strong players, even when you look at their bench, and were playing top-level football last season.”
Even though many teams go on to do well after being promoted to the Premier League, there’s still a sizeable gulf in class between the top flight and the Championship because of the difference in finances and the money teams have at their disposal.
McCann is completely correct about their bench. Wes Foderingham, Chris Basham, Jayden Bogle, Oliver Norwood, Adlene Guedioura, Iliman Ndiaye and Oliver McBurnie would all be starters for many second-tier sides, so the fact they were able to call on all seven is a massive advantage to have.
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During a gruelling 46-game campaign when not just depth but strength in depth is vital to any potential promotion charge, this quality is a weapon in their armoury that could pay dividends as they look to climb their way up the Championship table.
You can almost feel Sheffield United are now up and running after a poor start. Their 2-2 midweek draw against Preston North End will rightly be seen as a blow, but they were a matter of seconds from claiming all three points from that game and that will be a huge source of encouragement for Slavisa Jokanovic’s side.
The Blades do need to tighten up their defence though having kept just one league clean sheet so far this season, because they won’t be able to rise to the top quickly without plugging these gaps in their backline.