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Although Wolverhampton Wanderers remain as strong title favourites in the Championship given their summer spending spree and their strong start, the newly promoted Sheffield United have sprung right up into the top three of the betting market after boss Chris Wilder inspired the Blades to 11 wins in 16 games going into the international break.
Having hit the top of the division only to lose it following a defeat to QPR, many thought that it was the “bubble bursting” incident that would see them plummet down the division. Their home game against Hull saw them go a goal down and it seemed like the bubble had burst for real. However, Leon Clarke scored 4 stunning goals to help Sheffield United come out on top.
Although a lot of it comes down to fashion (given that Chelsea played a similar way en route to winning the Premier League last season), some of Wilder’s success can be put down to his chosen 3-5-2 formation.
Dominating the midfield with his central three seems to be giving his side lots of success and of course, employing extremely fit wing-backs to compliment the shape has worked well. This sort of formation allows him to pick a front two as well, which, although doesn’t work for everyone in the modern game, is doing the job for Wilder superbly right now.
Because formations do indeed go in and out of fashion, the penchant for most managers to play one central striker means most defences have been used to defending this sort of formation for quite some time. When they come up against the Blades though, there is a twin threat and most defences simply aren’t coping with it.
Saturday is a prime example; just when Hull got through 50-odd minutes without Billy Sharp scoring, Leon Clarke came up with the opener. Despite there being two central defenders handling most of Sheffield United’s attacks, going two v two with the strikers facing the goal and the defenders backing away is a recipe for disaster and it is working wonders right now for Sheffield United.
We mentioned here earlier as to how their recruitment policy before last season’s League One campaign pretty much won it for them. Summer signings Simon Moore, Mark Duffy, Jake Wright, Danny Lafferty and John Fleck were all very influential in their title win.
This season, George Baldock, Enda Stevens and Cameron Carter-Vickers are similar examples and it means Wilder’s eye for a player is allowing him to go a level up with every passing transfer window. It makes you wonder how he would elevate the club if they reach the Premier League!