Well, now we know. Sheffield United will go into the new season without skipper Billy Sharp, after the club confirmed his release.
Sharp joins Kyron Gordon, Enda Stevens and Jack O’Connell in being released by United. For Sharp, Stevens and O’Connell in particular, it represents the end of a hugely successful era at the club.
Sharp and O’Connell were part of three promotions while Stevens helped United into the Premier League twice.
All three are and will be considered club legends by supporters. And it seems that among the current playing staff, the trio are just as highly-regarded.
Sheffield United players react to Billy Sharp and more leaving the club
The players probably knew these announcements were coming anyway. While things have been kept quiet from the press, internally, there will have been a knowledge of what was happening.
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Taking to their Instagram accounts, both players shared short and sweet messages on their stories in response to the announcement of Sharp, O’Connell and Stevens being released.
Sheffield United News View: The time had come
All good things come to an end one day and sadly, this felt the right time for Sharp and a few others to move on.
That’s not to diminish their achievements though. Far from it. Sharp, Stevens and O’Connell are three of United’s best ever players – well, certainly of the last few decades – and all will be fondly remembered.
The trio helped create memories to last a lifetime for some fans and without them, we’d be nowhere near where we are now.
Sharp will probably get a move to at least a League One outfit, while Stevens, if fit, can do a job in the Championship.
For O’Connell, an announcement on retirement would not be a surprise. We will wait and see on that one and whatever the next step is, wish him all the best.