ENDA STEVENS believes that the feats of Sheffield United’s opening-day opponents Bournemouth can serve as an inspiration in the Blades’ own quest to re-establish themselves as a Premier League club.
The Blades begin their top-flight adventure by the seaside at the Cherries’ Vitality Stadium on August 10, the club’s first top-tier fixture in more than 12 years.
The game sees United renew acquaintances with David Brooks, who moved to Bournemouth in a £11.5m deal last summer – the South Yorkshire club’s record sale.
Despite some big-money arrivals in the past few years, the success of the Cherries – preparing for their fifth successive top-flight campaign – has been built around players with a lower-league background stepping up to the Premier League. It is a template that the Blades are striving to follow.
Ex-Portsmouth and Doncaster defender Stevens, 28, said: “Bournemouth is a similar story to us. They took some of their players from League Two and most of them from League One and took them all the way to the Premier League and have retained their league status.
“That gave them the ability to bring in young talent and spend the money on the likes of Brooko.
People have been sending me screenshots of the end of December to January and we are just laughing about it. I would rather be there than somewhere else.Enda Stevens
“Hopefully, we can replicate what they have done.”
Crystal Palace are the opponents for United’s first home game of the season on Saturday, August 17, and Wilder’s side host Leicester City seven days later before finishing off August with a trip to Chelsea.
Marquee Bramall Lane appointments await in the autumn against Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United, while the Blades have been handed a tough start to 2020.
After finishing the old year with a December 28 trip to champions Manchester City, January begins with a New Year’s Day appointment at Anfield.
United also visit Arsenal and host Pep Guardiola’s City during January. They finish the season at Southampton on May 17.
Stevens added: “People have been sending me screenshots of the end of December to January and we are just laughing about it.
“I would rather be there than somewhere else.