Sheffield United have now made the joint worst start in Premier League history.
The one point from their opening eight games is only matched by Manchester City in 1995/96, Southampton in 1998/99, Sheffield Wednesday in 1999/00 and Sunderland in 2013/14. A nod to BBC Sport for the research here.
Both Man City and Wednesday went onto be relegated. The Saints only avoided the drop by one place.
The signs don’t look good for the Blades, who were most recently beaten resoundingly 4-1 by Chelsea. With 11 defeats and one draw in their last 12 games in all competitions, it’s the worst run of Chris Wilder’s managerial career.
It’s quite the fall from grace from last season – their first in the top flight in 12 years. Many predicted this kind of form then, but United confounded their critics by finishing ninth.
It was their highest league position since 1992, with their defensive record only bettered by the top three teams of 2019/20.
That already seems likes a distant memory.
What has happened to Sheffield United in the Premier League?
The Blades achieved the feats of last term with a squad largely made up of players who had risen through the ranks with them. They broke their transfer record five times during the last campaign.
But the core of the side featured for them in the Championship. In fact, Chris Basham – who started every league game – played for them in League One.
As did fellow defender Jack O’Connell, who featured in 35 matches; only missing the others due to injury. George Baldock, Ollie Norwood and Enda Stevens also started every league fixture and all played for United in the second tier.
What really helped them rise into the top ten was their organisation and strength of character. The way they capitulated in the second half at Stamford Bridge on Saturday showed no evidence of that.
Cut the excuses
They are starting to grate.
The aforementioned O’Connell is out for the season after having knee surgery. Lys Mousset hasn’t played in 2020/21 due to a toe problem and John Fleck has also been sidelined for more than a month.
But they knew about O’Connell’s injury before the transfer window closed and failed to replace him. Rhian Brewster has arrived for a club record fee.
The fixture list has also been highlighted. The game at Chelsea finished off a run of facing Liverpool, Manchester City and the Blues in succession.
With defeats to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal as well, the Blades have already played five of the eight teams that finished above them last term. We’ve even written about how tough this is.
Yet they’ve also lost to newly promoted Leeds United and Aston Villa – who only avoided the drop on the final day of 2019/20. They snatched a late draw against Fulham, who also came up with Leeds and are yet to win themselves.
Wilder keeps saying his team can’t go “toe-to-toe” with the league’s big sides. But they beat the Gunners, Chelsea and Spurs last year. It’s an almost defeatist attitude from a man who has never resorted to that before.
The truth is, they look devoid of confidence, are defensively suspect and offer almost nothing going forwards. With a fortnight until their next outing due to the international break, Wilder and his coaching staff need to address this; or face drifting out of the division without a fight.