Moving on from Chris Wilder, recovering from a Premier League hangover and facing a period of transition: The lowdown on Blackpool’s next opponents Sheffield United
After taking the bragging rights against Preston last weekend, Blackpool return to action on Saturday with a trip to Bramall Lane.
The Seasiders are enjoying a rich vein of form at the moment, having won six of their last nine games in the Championship.
It leaves Neil Critchley’s newly-promoted side in 11th place in the table, but level on points with Luton Town in fifth.
This weekend they take on a Sheffield United side that were relegated from the Premier League last season.
Under new boss Slavisa Jokanovic, the Blades endured a difficult start to the campaign, not winning until their sixth game in.
But since then, the Blades have recovered and now sit 14th and just three points adrift of the Seasiders.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, The Gazette has caught up with Danny Hall, Blades writer for our sister paper the Sheffield Star, to preview this weekend’s affair.
- What's been the story of the season so far? From the outside looking in, it seems the club are back on track a little bit after making a slow start.
It's been one of transition for the Blades so far, both getting used to being back in the Championship and trying to get used to Slavisa Jokanovic's methods.
He does things differently to Chris Wilder, who was in charge for so long, so it was inevitable really that it may take a bit of time for the players to adjust.
The injection of some new players just before the transfer deadline undoubtedly helped - it would have helped if they arrived a lot earlier - but then the Blades still seem to have a habit of looking to make things very difficult for themselves in games.
They've thrown away so many points already late in games and almost did the same against Barnsley on Sunday after being 3-0 up, just about scraping through 3-2.
- What do you attribute the poor start to? A hangover from last season's relegation?
This is a group of players who were beaten 30 times in 43 games last season and although a few players moved on, it was largely the same group that began the new campaign.
The players made the right noises about it being a fresh start, but that sort of suffering week after week is bound to take a psychological toll and it was a big ask really for that to just be forgotten about when the new season began.
As previously mentioned, the players had to adjust to some different methods and Covid-19 issues meant they only actually played two pre-season games, so Jokanovic and his players were essentially learning about each other on the job in the opening few games of the season.
As both got more used to each other, you could see things start to gel and if they can get out of the habit of throwing points away, things may look a lot rosier.
- Which players should Blackpool fans look out for?
Billy Sharp has been in good form so far this season, with Ben Osborn and Lys Mousset also scoring against Barnsley last weekend, but it's the return of Morgan Gibbs-White from suspension that should cause Blackpool the most problems.
He's been brilliant since he arrived on loan from Wolves and will come back in against Blackpool.
Watch out for Iliman Ndiaye too, a talented French youngster who has received a long-overdue chance in the Blades first-team and is looking to make the most of it.
- What have the fans made of Slavisa Jokanovic so far?
I think a lot of fans appreciate the job he has got on his hands, and also that his sides tend to take a bit of time to get going early in the season before finishing strongly.
He's a proven winner at this level and it was a real coup when he was unveiled, but now he must be backed with the tools to do his job. Otherwise, what's the point?
The Blades are still in a transition period as discussed before, but they have played some brilliant stuff under his tenure already and fingers crossed, he'll prove to be a good appointment in the long run.
- Which players are likely to be missing for Saturday?
Lys Mousset limped off after scoring twice at Barnsley and Sander Berge has been missing for some time with a hamstring injury.
Jayden Bogle also missed out at Barnsley and will be assessed ahead of the weekend.
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