But having finally seen the move he had been hoping for since last summer go through, midfielder Regan Slater says he has been met with constant smiles since returning.
The 22-year-old spent last season at Hull on loan from Sheffield United, growing into the League One title winning-season as it went on. Then-manager Grant McCann wanted him back for a crack at the Championship but a move fell through on August’s deadline day.
It led to a wasted half-season with Slater not playing for his boyhood club despite noises he would get his chance. McCann came back in January but everyone expected him to be sacked when Acun Ilicali took over. He was, but Hull pressed ahead with the permanent deal.
“I was just worried after what happened last time, I didn’t want it to happen again so when it got the green light, I was made up,” said Slater, the Blades’ youngest goalscorer after finding the net in 2016-17 as a 17-year-old.
“Everyone’s got a smile on their face. The first time I walked in the atmosphere was very, very good and it’s been the same all the way through so far.”
Asked about his return to Bramall Lane, he said: “I got injured, which is just one of those things that happens, and I worked hard recovery-wise but the chance just never came in my opinion. Nothing was said really.”
Ilicali’s ambition and the presence of fans again make the stakes higher than even the title-winning campaign.
“That pressure’s good pressure,” insists Slater. “I found it quite refreshing he came in straight away and said that’s what I want from you. He’s obviously been watching for a long time and if he expects that from us, we’re capable of doing it.”
Slater is one of four potential debutants with deadline-day signings Allahyar Sayyadmanesh, Marcus Foss and Liam Walsh. That only Sayyadmanesh is new to England is no coincidence, says coach Shota Arveladze.
“They have to know the league and what kind of games to expect, that’s important,” he says. “Whenever you bring players from abroad it’s very difficult for them to find out what it’s all about. It was our first choice to look to the local market.”