Sheffield United are returning to the top-flight of English football after 13 years away. They last were in the Premier League during the 2006/07 season and spent almost half of that hiatus in the third tier.
Knowing that anything other than a victory from their nearest rivals would send them up, the United players watched on in a bar as Leeds United were held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa in a hotly-tempered contest.
The season’s perennial overachievers and most unlikeliest of underdogs had their Cinderella ending. Cue the celebrations, champagne and chants of ‘we are going up!!!’.
Sheffield United, nicknamed ‘The Blades’ spent six consecutive seasons in League 1 from 2011/12-2016/17 and only gained promotion to the Championship two years ago.
A season of consolidation followed, finishing 10th on their return. This season was expected to be the same but they defied all odds and predictions, playing scintillating football at times.
Falling into mid-table obscurity, fierce local rivals Sheffield Wednesday, who had been challenging for play-off positions whilst United were lingering in the division below in recent years, are now no longer the biggest club in the City.
The Blades are promoted at Yorkshire rivals Leeds United expense. In the automatic promotion spots for the vast majority of the season, they will have to take the consolation of a play-off spot with another chance at securing top-flight status.
Sheffield United will be joined in next season’s Premier League by the winners of the play-off final at Wembley in May and by Norwich City who all-but sealed the Championship title by beating Blackburn Rovers 2-1.
Fans took the street of the Steel City to celebrate Premier League football coming back to Bramall Lane. They haven’t had a lot to cheer over the past decade but have supported the team through all the ups and downs.
It’s one of the greatest days of my life, 100%, to see it over the line today, surrounded by my players and my family. To see us back in the Premier League is truly incredible.
Sheffield United FC Manager, Chris Wilder
Listen to Chris Wilder’s entire interview with BBC Radio Sheffield:
Wilder took over a club that sacked 6 previous managers in 8 seasons including 3 in the 2013/14 season and had finished 11th in the previous League One season. He guided them to the title in his first season in charge, and has exceeded expectations yet again.
Keeping them up next season, will take a herculean effort. It’s well known that the first season in the top-flight is the hardest, just ask Fulham. The Blades won’t be concentrating on that however.