As the dust settles on a fantastic promotion-winning campaign, Sheffield United will already be thinking about next season, their first in the Premier League after a twelve-year absence.
Chris Wilder’s side will have their work cut out for them though. The past five Premier League seasons have seen seven of fifteen promoted teams suffer immediate relegation.
While the disparity in wealth in the Premier League can cause newcomers to struggle, there’s a few mistakes made by clubs in the past that United can learn from.
Don’t go on a transfer market spending spree
Spending lots of money works when you’re vying for titles, but for newly promoted sides it can easily backfire.
Mouth-watering sponsorships, commercial deals and bumper TV revenues can send promoted clubs into a transfer market frenzy. But the result can be a squad of high-earners who struggle to gel and have very little affinity to their new club or fans.
Fulham suffered relegation in 2018/19 after ditching the hardworking heroes that earned them promotion for expensive big-name stars.
United’s main strength is the togetherness and spirit of their tight-knit squad, something that can take a club a long way in the Premier League. To keep it that way, a gung-ho approach to business must be avoided.
Don’t abandon the style of play
The Blades’3-5-2 system utilising overlapping centre-backs and quick transitions from attack to defence has been a revelation, and it’s vital that they take that approach into the Premier League.
While more caution is necessary to avoid embarrassment in the top flight, too often promoted teams abandon any sense of attacking, adventurous football in favour of nicking a point here or there through dogged defending.
The 2017-18 season saw both Fulham and Cardiff promoted playing attacking football, but this season both forgot how to attack and paid the price.
Tactical pragmatism against the big boys is fine, but not at the expense of long-term identity.
Stick with the gaffer
The manager is usually the first on the chopping block when a club’s fortunes turn south, but a change in the dugout far from guarantees improved fortunes.
Fulham again provide a cautionary tale. Slavisa Jokanovic was sacked just two months into the current season after a poor start, despite guiding the Cottagers from Championship mid-table obscurity to the Premier League.
His successor, Claudio Ranieri, fared no better and was dismissed after only four months. Former player Scott Parker was brought in on a temporary basis, but could do nothing to prevent Fulham’s relegation. Sometimes it’s better to stick than twist.
In Chris Wilder, United have an innovative coach who loves the club as much as the players and fans love him. If they suffer a tricky start to the campaign, Wilder should be trusted to rectify the situation.