The Daily Telegraph - Business

Blades must buck his­tory

- Sports · Soccer · Sheffield United F.C. · Sheffield · Wigan Athletic F.C. · Wigan · Birmingham City Football Club · Middlesbrough F.C. · Middlesbrough · Football League First Division · Nottingham Forest F.C. · Nottingham · UEFA · Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. · Chris Wilder · Bryan Robson · Frank Clark · Stan Collymore

Sh­effield United should beware a his­tory of re­cently pro­moted clubs suf­fer­ing se­cond-sea­son syn­drome in the Premier League.

Much like Chris Wilder’s side in the last cam­paign, Wi­gan Ath­letic looked per­fectly at home in the top flight in 2005-06, end­ing up 10th a year af­ter pro­mo­tion and be­ing run­ners-up in the League Cup.

A year later, how­ever, still un­der Paul Jewell, they avoided rel­e­ga­tion only on goal dif­fer­ence, es­cap­ing the drop and send­ing down Sh­effield United with a 2-1 win at Bra­mall Lane on the fi­nal day.

Three years later, Alex McLeish’s newly-pro­moted Birm­ing­ham City fin­ished an im­pres­sive ninth in the top flight. But they too could not main­tain that form and went down in the 2010-11 cam­paign af­ter los­ing five of their fi­nal six matches.

With Bryan Robson at the helm, Mid­dles­brough fin­ished a cred­i­ble 12th in the 1995-96 Premier League af­ter win­ning the pre­vi­ous sea­son’s First Divi­sion, only to be rel­e­gated a year later.

‘A bit of com­pla­cency creeps in and other clubs know what to ex­pect. They must deal with that’

main­tain the mo­men­tum of their first cam­paign. Not­ting­ham For­est also suf­fered a dra­matic fall af­ter get­ting pro­moted and fin­ish­ing third in 1994-95. They had an­other de­cent sea­son, but were rel­e­gated the fol­low­ing cam­paign.

Frank Clark, who got For­est pro­moted and into the Uefa Cup, be­lieves they never ef­fec­tively re­placed Stan Col­ly­more. Wilder keep­ing his key play­ers will help them in their se­cond sea­son, which starts to­day against Wolves.

Clark said: “If you stand still and don’t im­prove your squad, you go back­wards be­cause ev­ery­one else is go­ing for­ward. To main­tain it you have to some­how im­prove your team. Sh­effield United can­not spend for­tunes, but he’s made three or four ac­qui­si­tions that look solid.

“It was a big blow to us to lose Stan, and we never re­ally re­placed him. We did OK the next sea­son and got to the quar­ter-fi­nal of the Uefa Cup, but never re­ally re­placed him. Sh­effield United have kept their team to­gether and have in­creased their com­pe­ti­tion. A bit of com­pla­cency creeps in some­times and the fact the other clubs know what to ex­pect. They were an un­known quan­tity and played with a sys­tem that not many played with.

“But this year ev­ery­one will be ready for them, so they have to deal with that, which I’m sure they will. I’m sure Chris will make sure there is no com­pla­cency there.”

The man­ager in­sists that his team now know just how dif­fi­cult the Premier League can be and are pre­pared for it.

“Last sea­son counts for noth­ing. You get all sorts of stats and peo­ple talk­ing about se­cond-sea­son syn­drome, about be­ing found out, then other stats say­ing strug­gling in the se­cond sea­son is not as much as peo­ple think,” Wilder said. “All of those things are ir­rel­e­vant – we have to start with the same man­ner, same at­ti­tude. The group is bet­ter for a sea­son in the Premier League, and we are stronger. These are only opin­ions, and we now have to walk the walk.”

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