Sheffield United have spent the overwhelming majority of the season ready to return to the Premier League however the Blades nonetheless must hurdle the ultimate few weeks of the marketing campaign to make sure that is the place they end by May.
Paul Heckingbottom’s aspect haven’t completed a day exterior the play-off positions since August and have been firmly ensconced in one of many two automated spots on the finish of each post-World Cup weekend.
However, such a stellar common season would solely heighten the agony if Heckingbottom cannot nudge his aspect over the road.
While an FA Cup semi-final looms after an exhilarating comeback in opposition to Blackburn Rovers, listed here are the essential league fixtures that await Sheffield United after the March worldwide break.
Norwich have emerged as the final word yo-yo crew in recent times however the Canaries face an uphill scrap if they’re to earn a 3rd promotion in as many Championship seasons.
The second-tier champions from 2019 and 2021 go into the worldwide break exterior the play-off spots however solely three factors behind sixth-placed Millwall. David Wagner inherited a crew slumped in eleventh however impressed an uptick in kind which may derail Sheffield United’s personal promotion aspirations.
Burnley and Sheffield United have fashioned the division’s high two on the finish of on daily basis for the reason that World Cup. While the Clarets are all however assured of an automated spot with a 13-point cushion to 3rd, the Blades should not have the identical security web, sitting simply three factors above Middlesbrough.
Until Manchester City unshackled Erling Haaland within the FA Cup quarter-finals, Sheffield United had been the authors of Burnley’s heaviest defeat of the season, romping to a 5-2 victory at Bramall Lane in November with, like City, 4 targets after the interval.
A repeat of that rout at Turf Moor is very unlikely; Burnley have solely conceded multiple purpose at house in two video games this season – they did not lose both of them.
Going into the March worldwide break, West Brom are skirting across the periphery of the play-off spots, 5 factors off sixth however with a sport in hand on Millwall. It would very a lot swimsuit Sheffield United if West Brom’s promotion hopes had been extinguished by the point they journey to Bramall Lane on the penultimate weekend of the season.
Both of Sheffield United’s joint-top scorers, Illman Ndiaye and Oli McBurnie, discovered the web in a 2-0 victory away to West Brom in October. No aspect has overwhelmed the Baggies on the Hawthorns since however Carlos Corberan’s crew are a way more feeble opponent on the highway, incomes only one league win away from house in 2023.
To say that Sheffield United’s file within the Championship play-offs is abysmal could be an understatement. Since the arrival of a mini-tournament to resolve the destiny of second-tier sides within the late Nineteen Eighties, Sheffield United have certified for the play-offs 5 occasions – all have led to failure.
In 1997, the Blades made it to their first play-offs, squeezing previous Ipswich Town through away targets within the semi-finals earlier than dropping to a Ninetieth-minute winner from Crystal Palace’s David Hopkins at Wembley. It could be the primary of three play-off closing defeats for the Blades – a joint file they share with Derby County and Reading.
Sheffield United returned to the play-offs final season for the primary time since 2009 however as soon as once more got here unstuck. Three months earlier than Morgan Gibbs-White turned Nottingham Forest’s file signing, the England youth worldwide sparked a comeback for Sheffield United on the City Ground within the second leg of the play-off semi-finals, forcing the tie to penalties. Gibbs-White missed the decisive kick because the Tricky Trees superior to a closing they gained earlier than snapping up the playmaker that summer time.
The Championship’s common season concludes on Monday 8 May oddly, with all of the groups kicking off concurrently at 15:00 (BST). The Football League is but to launch the official dates of the play-off semi-finals however these historically happen on the primary weekend after the season’s conclusion, which might be on 13-14 May.
The play-off pits the crew that completed third on the finish of the season in opposition to their sixth-placed counterparts whereas fourth and fifth battle it out for a spot within the closing throughout two legs house and away.
When is the 2023 Championship play-off closing?
The powers that be at England’s Football Association have been form sufficient to disclose that the Football League play-off finals will happen between Saturday 27 May and Monday 29 May. With the League One and League Two finals to be performed on this window, the Championship showpiece is usually saved for final, with a day kick-off anticipated.
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