Sheffield United will not be ditching their 3-5-2 formation any time soon.
This is despite the fact that the man who made it so synonymous with the Blades – Chris Wilder – has left the club.
Just a few games into his time as United manager, Wilder switched to the wing-back system.
While there were tweaks along the way, it pretty much remained in place throughout Wilder’s almost five years in charge.
With good reason too, as playing 3-5-2 led to two promotions and a ninth place finish in the Premier League during that time.
The overlapping centre-back tactic, in particular, earned widespread praise among some high profile figures in football.
However, with results and performances faltering this season, some fans and pundits alike began questioning if Wilder was right to continue with it.
The 53-year-old stoutly defended his system whenever it was raised. He said players had been signed specifically to play in that formation.
It is deep-rooted at Bramall Lane and that’s why, even though Wilder has left, it’s here to stay.
Why 3-5-2 will remain at Sheffield United
Caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom has continued with 3-5-2 since taking charge on a temporary basis. The Blades have lost all three matches since he took over.
So, why has nothing changed?
Yorkshire Live reports that Heckingbottom feels that the squad has been built around the system and therefore aren’t suited to playing anything else.
Especially as his options are currently limited because of injuries.
Not only that, but in his usual role as Under-23s manager, Heckingbottom also plays 3-5-2.
It’s typical for academy formations to mirror the first team as it makes the progression of youngsters more seamless.
However, whomever is appointed as Wilder’s permanent successor also needs to be comfortable playing the system. It’s one of the criteria being considered in the board’s decision.
This isn’t to say that the new boss can’t change things further down the line. But the United hierarchy don’t want an overhaul of the squad this summer.
Therefore, they think sticking with 3-5-2 is the right thing to do – in the short-term at least.
They also want the Blades to push for promotion at the first time of asking next campaign. This is assuming that, as expected, they are relegated from the Premier League this term.
Changing the system and getting players used to it takes time and the board want instant results.