Sheffield United’s primary target in the upcoming Premier League campaign is likely to be simply staying in the division following their promotion as the Championship's runners-up last term.
Manager: Paul Heckingbottom
Captain: John Egan
Top League Scorer last season: Iliman Ndiaye (14)
Last season's finish: 2nd in Championship (Promoted)
To Finish Bottom - 9/2
To be Relegated - 8/13
To Not be Relegated - 6/5
To Finish in Top Half - 16/1
Sheffield United enjoyed a season to remember last year as the Blades sealed promotion back to the Premier League as the Championship's runners-up behind runaway leaders Burnley, having occupied the second automatic promotion berth for the majority of the campaign.
After going down 1-0 to Watford at Vicarage Road in their season opener, Sheffield United proceeded to go on a nine-match unbeaten run to lay down an early marker in their promotion bid.
The season highlight for the Blades in the Championship came in November, with Vincent Kompany's all-conquering Burnley side swept aside 5-2 at Bramall Lane in perhaps United's finest performance of the campaign.
The quest for promotion ended up pretty straightforward in the end for the Blades, confirming their Premier League place with three games to spare following a comfortable 2-0 victory at home to West Brom and ending up 11 points clear of third-placed Luton Town in the table.
Entering the new Premier League season on a high after securing promotion to the top flight after finishing second behind Burnley in the Championship last term, the feel-good at Bramall Lane may not last long once they are reacquainted with the best sides in the country.
The Blades spent just two seasons in the Championship following their relegation from the Premier League in 2020-21, a campaign which saw them finish rock bottom on just 23 points, with this last experience in the the top tier of English football certainly a bruising one.
Things at Sheffield United have not changed all too much following relegation two years ago, with the then interim manager Paul Heckingbottom now in permanent charge of the Blades, and first team players such as John Egan, George Baldock, Ollie Norwood, John Fleck, Sander Berge and Oli McBurnie all still prominent.
One player who has really come to the fore during United's last two seasons in the Championship is 23-year-old forward Iliman Ndiaye, with the skilful Senegal international set to be key to the Blades' survival hopes in the Premier League.
Players such as Ndiaye, Norway international Sander Berge in midfield and defensive pair John Egan and Anel Ahmedhodzic are certainly capable of performing at a Premier League level, and Sheffield United's well-drilled setup featuring five defenders should prove awkward to play against.
The Premier League will be a huge step up in class for a team made up of a number of the personnel who were relegated just two years ago, however, with the Blades likely to have one sole aim upon their return to the top table of English football - survival.
Formerly in charge at Leeds United, Barnsley and Hibernian, Paul Heckingbottom was first appointed Sheffield United manager on an interim basis in March 2021 with the Blades sat 12 points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League table.
Upon their relegation to the Championship the United hierarchy elected to install Serbian Slavisa Jokanovic in the club's hotseat, but his tenure did not last long, with Heckingbottom resuming control in November 2021.
Since then, Heckingbottom has been able to foster a cohesive tactical system and sense of togetherness at Bramall Lane which resembles the side put together by the club's previous manager Chris Wilder, who helped steer United to two promotions and a ninth place finish in the Premier League between 2016 and 2021.
Former Sheffield Wednesday player Heckingbottom has developed into a popular figure amongst the Blades squad and fans, placing great trust in his players within a well-established formation which utilises three central defenders and two wing-backs.
Eliminated in the play-off semi-finals on penalties against Nottingham Forest last year before being promoted as Championship runners-up this time around, Heckingbottom's United will hope they are ready to hold their own in the top flight.
Although he has substantial credit in the bank at Bramall Lane following the club's promotion, the Premier League can be unforgiving, and considering Heckingbottom is perhaps not the most glamourous or fashionable of coaches, his position could come under pressure quickly if things go awry.
A player with humble beginnings, coming through the youth ranks at non-league side Boreham Wood whilst also representing Sunday League outfit Rising Ballers, 23-year-old Iliman Ndiaye is now a fully-fledged Senegal international who has developed into Sheffield United's star player.
Registering 25 goal contributions in the Championship last term - 14 goals and 11 assists - Ndiaye is a forward capable of playing through the middle or just off the front.
Ndiaye's eye-catching performances in the Championship saw him called up to Aliou Cisse's Senegal squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where he made three appearances, and reports have suggested the forward's form has alerted a number of sizeable clubs across Europe.
The Senegalese's skill and ability to eliminate defenders has made him a firm favourite amongst the Bramall Lane faithful, and Ndiaye has fostered a fruitful understanding with Oli McBurnie in the Sheffield United attack.
Signed from Malmo last summer, Bosnia and Herzegovina international defender Anel Ahmedhodzic has been a revelation at Bramall Lane as the Blades were able to secure promotion to the Premier League along with champions Burnley and play-off winners Luton Town last season.
Typically deployed on the right of Sheffield United's back three alongside skipper John Egan and Jack Robinson, 24-year-old Ahmedhodzic is adept at stepping forward to join in the Blades' attacks.
This ability to get forward in possession, alongside his aerial prowess at 6ft 3in tall, makes Ahmedhodzic a considerable goal threat. Notching six times in the Championship last term, Ahmedhodzic ought to be a player on the radar of fantasy football managers ahead of the new Premier League campaign.
(5-3-2): Foderingham, Baldock, Ahmedhodzic, Egan (c), Robinson, Norrington-Davies, Slimane, Berge, Norwood, Ndiaye, McBurnie.
Sheffield United's opening six Premier League fixtures for the 2023/24 season are as follows:
The below table illustrates Sheffield United's league finishes over the past five seasons:
|2020/21||20th (Premier League)|
|2019/20||9th (Premier League)|
Odds correct at time of publishing and subject to change.