As this miserable and demoralising Sheffield United season comes to an end in the coming months, certain Blades players will be looking over their shoulders this summer.
A new manager is set to be apppointed shortly. A change in the way things are done on a day to day basis, as well as tactics, new signings, and preferred playing style, all bound to impact the current squad.
But in fairness, this current crop – as good as they have been and will be rightly celebrated in hindsight – needs a kick up the backside. Effort levels and identity have all gone missing in recent weeks. Those things, as Chris Wilder would say, should be a given at this football club.
So, while everyone in the squad will have a clean slate under any new boss coming in, it’s safe to say some of this Sheffield United squad need to up their game in the final weeks to ensure they remain at Bramall Lane next season.
Here’s who we think could be close to the exit door at Sheffield United if things don’t improve quickly for them.
As much as it pains us to say it, the Irishman is one of a number of players who have looked a shadow of themselves this season.
The drop in Stevens’ performance levels has been staggering ever since the first lockdown in 2020. It started with a woeful error away at Newcastle and since then, he’s just not looked right.
Stevens has been outstanding for United in recent seasons. We really hope he can rediscover his mojo and get back to his best. Sadly, at the moment he seems a long way off and with a contract until 2023, the Blades may look to cash in, especially with Rhys Norrington-Davies due back and Ben Osborn doing well when selected.
Much like Stevens, Oli McBurnie is a player we’d love to see playing his very best football and proving the doubters wrong.
To be clear here on our stance, we’d love McBurnie to do well and we think he can be a vital cog in the Championship. He’s proven at that level and a good year getting in and among the goals would do him the world of good.
But with Wolves said to be sniffing and just one Premier League goal to his name this season, United might well look to claw their money back. The thought of a Brewster and McBurnie partnership seems exciting on paper, but McBurnie needs to show that little bit more in the coming weeks.
Norwood could prove a pivotal player in the Championship. He’s been there, done it, and worn the t-shirt. Three times, in fact.
But like so many others, Norwood has seen such a drop off in his performance levels it begs the question of if United should simply move him on.
The midfielder did sign a new deal last year to take him through to 2023 and in terms of saleable assets, is probably not one of the Blades players who could bring a big fee in. Much could depend on Sander Berge staying put. If he does, Norwood could be moved to second choice in the centre of the park.
Whether he’d be willing to play second fiddle is another question. But, like so many, his displays this year have been from inspiring.
Many Sheffield United fans would probably respond with the standard ‘i’ll drive him there myself’ when it comes to Lys Mousset.
But we aren’t so quick to write off the Frenchman. Yes, he’s had issues on and off the field but, somewhere in there, is a talented striker who could thrive if fit and played right.
Of course, a lot of this rests on Mousset’s shoulders. He has to show the drive and effort to get fit and involved. From there, he needs to show he can get back to the levels we saw last season. If not, then it could be a case of goodbye for the former Bournemouth man over the summer.
Burke is probably the least likely on this list to be moved on, after only arriving in a swap deal with Callum Robinson last summer.
There is no doubt Burke has the pace to worry defenders and be a valuable player at Championship level. But that pace and power needs harnessing in the right way. As the season has gone on, it’s become more and more apparent why Burke’s not quite got going in his career yet.
He is contracted until 2023 and you can’t fault his effort levels. But he must prove in this final stretch that there is more to him than just speed.
If he isn’t up to scratch in terms of being a striker, then the club either need to move him swiftly on. Or, coach him properly into a position he feels at home in.