Just when they had built momentum with four wins in as many games, Sheffield United saw their next four matches postponed due to Coronavirus cases meaning they have not been in action since 20th December.
The 1-0 win at Fulham last time out was a statement victory in showing that the Blades have the quality to challenge even the best teams in the division heading into the second half of the campaign.
Paul Heckingbottom has a 100% record since becoming the new permanent manager and was a little frustrated about the club’s loss of momentum when he appeared on The Official EFL Podcast.
He said: “It does feel like we’re starting again, and starting again without doing the preparation we would have done if we’d known we were going to have this big lay-off.
“No excuses, regardless of what’s gone on, the hand we’ve been dealt, we’ve got to perform. That’ll start with our schedule of 24 league games in 12 weeks. There’s more opportunities for more players.”
There were question marks over the appointment of Heckingbottom and the ambition it showed from the club, but the former Leeds United boss has harnessed the fresh slate it has presented to the squad to have many tipping them to make the leap into the play-off places come May.
Quiz: Can you name which club Sheffield United signed these 28 midfielders from?
Though there does not seem to be a lot of pressure from the club’s hierarchy to achieve promotion this year, with the squad at Heckingbottom’s disposal, the expectations from the stands will not have lowered. There were some frustrations around Slavisa Jokanovic’s slow build up and possession based approach that appear to have been addressed with Heckingbottom more front foot style of play.
With the hectic fixture schedule on the horizon due to the postponements, it would be advisable for the Blades to deepen their squad this month to ensure Heckingbottom has plenty of options heading into the business end of the season. United have utilised the loan market very well this term but could be looking at a couple of longer term investments to reduce the average age of the squad.