Former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan made a prediction about Sheffield United before the 2020/21 season started.
At the time the Blades were getting ready to try and build on their most successful campaign in 28 years.
They finished ninth last term in their first Premier League season in 12 years – their best position since 1992.
Yet Jordan was worried that manager Chris Wilder and his team may have raised expectations too high.
“It’ll be a key season for Sheffield United,” he was quoted by The Sheffield Star in early September.
“Chris Wilder is the perfect manager and we’ll see if second season syndrome comes in. I don’t think it will. He’s a breath of fresh air. I love his attitude.
“But they’ve got a challenge because of the expectations. Very rarely do you ever satisfy the expectations of media and fans. Once you don’t, you’re in a different dynamic that people become disappointed and disillusioned.”
Jordan also spoke about United owner Prince Abdullah and the money he had given to Wilder and his recruitment team.
“He was clear that he looked at other clubs. He’s spending the money the Premier League has allowed him to spend by their involvement,” the former Eagles chief continued.
“I think what he’s spent is reasonable – £50-60m a season. It’s the wages that will be the key.”
Simon Jordan has a point
Whether it’s “second season syndrome” or not, the Blades certainly haven’t lived up to expectations this term.
Their 1-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday was their ninth loss in 10 league matches. They have made the worst start in Premier League history.
Wilder is struggling to recapture the form that saw United gain many admirers in 2019/20.
Some people are questioning whether the 53-year-old is still the right man for the job. This is admittedly a minority and we have made our feelings very clear on the subject.
But expectations have been raised. There are also question marks about big money summer signings such as Rhian Brewster and Aaron Ramsdale.
Yet while large chunks of cash has been spent, Jordan is correct to point out that wages are key.
The biggest earners at Bramall Lane get around £30,000-a-week. A report from the Mirror last year said the South Yorkshire club paid their players around £9,000-a-week on average.
This was by far the lowest in the division. First place Manchester City, in contrast, paid out £115,000-a-week on average.
So while the Blades have sanctioned relatively large transfer fees, they still have to gamble on young prospects because they don’t have the finances to pay established Premier League stars.
They are constantly punching above their weight. Critics of Wilder should remember that.