It doesn’t feel like two minutes since the football league season ended on 26th July, not to mention FA Cups and Champions League games that followed, and yet in a few short days the season will begin again, bringing with it high hopes and anticipation for many fans.
Football post-Covid-19 is certainly a different entity than it used to be, with empty stadiums and quite a sterile environment, you would be right to worry that it’s losing what enamours us to the beautiful game, its character. I personally cannot wait until we are welcomed back into football stadiums, but for now we’re faced with frequent Covid-19 checks and minimal attendees from within the official circle. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, there are plans for small crowd attendances starting in October and we can only wait and see what happens from there. One thing’s for sure our Sheffield teams will be raring to go, fans will be gathering around their tv sets and football will once again dominate office conversations (even if they are on zoom).
Second Season Syndrome?
Sheffield United are returning to the Premier League for the first time since 2007, following an incredibly successful 19/20 season that no one could’ve predicted. Ask any blade and they’d have been happy with a 17th finish but a top 10 finish seemed like a dream, and yet they continued to surprise, even a post lockdown hiccup and a ‘ghost goal’ didn’t stop the impressive first season return.
They will aim to emulate the success again this season while also being aware of the infamous second season syndrome that is often touted for those teams that do well on their first season back. The loss of Dean Henderson as he returns to his parent club, Manchester United, is a big one, but the return of Aaron Ramsdale will hopefully alleviate any concerns. He’s got a point to prove and with a strong defence in front of him, we could see his best season in the premier league yet. With promises of more signings before the start of the season, SUFC will be keen to get off to a good start against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday 14th September.
A -12 Mountain to Climb
The 2019/20 season was certainly one to forget for Sheffield Wednesday, yet it started so well. By the mid-way point of Christmas, the Owls were 3rd in the table competing well and challenging the top two, the least they were hoping for was the play offs but what came next was a catastrophic decline.
A less than impressive post-Christmas period got even worse post lockdown, with some poor defensive performances hampering the Owls down to a final finishing place of 16th. With an EFL case looming over them it’s understandable that the mood was downhearted, luckily for the Owls the points deduction was added to this season saving their bacon as, if applied to the 2019/20 season, it would have meant relegation.
What that does mean is a mountain of a -12 deduction to start the new season, but without that hanging over their head, some big names and wages off the books, replaced with young hungry talent and a manager with the full backing of the Owners don’t write them off just yet. A positive start is essential and will really set them on their way. It’s a big mountain but not unconceivable – anything other than relegation this season should be seen as a massive success.
The Oldest Football Club in the World
If you really need your football fix and cannot bear to watch another game with canned crowd noise via the tv then get yourself over to Sheffield FC. Due to their league position and the smaller size of their ground this is one place you can witness live football and soak up a proper atmosphere. Our non-league team needs us more than ever to show up, buy tickets and merchandise, and support the club. The Covid-19 crisis has hit smaller teams in an unimaginable way, these teams rely on fans for their revenue so if you find yourself at a loss for something to do, head there and remember why you love the beautiful game so much.
This season will be like no other, with changing rules and expectations, from zero crowds, to smaller crowds to eventually a more normal feel lets get behind our boys whatever colours we support and here’s to a positive season for all our Sheffield teams.
Alice is the Sheffield blogger behind AliceinSheffield, she writes about everything Sheffield – from places to explore to food you can’t miss check out her blog for fun things to do in our beautiful city. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @AliceInSheff and read her blog here: https://www.aliceinsheffield.com/