Debutants Iliman Ndiaye and Morgan Gibbs-White outstanding as Sheffield United's season finally gets going

"Three... two... one... coming!"

As in 2016-17, Sheffield United have very generously given the rest of the division a headstart but Saturday was the day their season finally got going with a terrific 6-2 win at home to Peterborough United.

The problem with having a transfer window open during the early weeks of a season is it can take weeks to properly get your squad in place, particularly when your recruitment is as ponderous as the Blades' was.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Even with only one new signing - but two full debutants - in the starting XI they looked reinvigorated and revitalised for what felt like a fresh start after the international break.

STUNNING START: Iliman Ndiaye celebrates his first goal for Sheffield United

Iliman Ndiaye scored twice and Morgan Gibbs-White once before departing to standing ovations. Not that it was all down to the new boys. Billy Sharp made three goals and Ben Osborn got just reward for the part he played in a brilliant front four with the final goal in stoppage time, his second of the match.

For 40 minutes the Blades looked a team transformed and when a couple of same old, same old seconds were punished with a goal, instead of feeling sorry for themselves and letting doubt creep in, they jumped up off the canvas, scored twice in as many minutes and just kept on going.

After three deadline-day loan signings, only Gibbs-White made his debut at the start, Conor Hourihane coming off the bench for the last 20 minutes, Robin Olsen stuck in quarantine. But Ndiaye, the youth product who signed a new contract earlier in the week, also made a first start.

Gibbs-White and Ndiaye, along with Osborn in the "three-quarter line" of Jokanovic's preferred 4-2-3-1 gave the Blades an instant lift, the first two (and Hourihane) having their names cheered more loudly than the rest as the teams were read out.

Rhys Norrington-Davies, another fresh face promoted from the youth ranks, put in a dangerous early cross unconvincingly flapped away by Christy Pym as team-mates ran across him, and Osborn played a couple of lovely passes as Billy Sharp made good runs for him.

Ndiaye started in the hole but showed a willingness to drift to wherever he could start - or in one case in front of the Kop, stop - danger. He produced an excellent square ball in the 10th minute but Oliver Norwood declined to hit the shot.

Unable to sign a winger in August, Jokanovic played Gibbs-White there and whilst he played like a No 10 on the right, he did a good job.

It was he who took the ball out of the air in the 14th minute and pulled it back for Ndiaye, who had initially gone out to the left with Osborn down injured and come in from there to score the opening goal.

The Blades continued in the same confident vein, good in open play, winning headers but not cleanly enough to put them on target at set-pieces.

In fairness, whilst the players have not got going yet this season - except when their youngsters have played in the League Cup - the support they have had has been excellent, and they enjoyed the energetic, imaginative football served up for them.

Gibbs-White produced a beautiful pass after 20 minutes but Sharp's touch allowed the keeper to come out and deny him.

Norwood's shot just over the crossbar from about 12 yards into Peterborough's half showed his team's confidence but the bubble was soon burst.

Posh's first attack of note came in the 37th minute but when Joshua Knight crossed, Sammie Szmodics slipped as his eyes lit up.

Three minutes later, Jack Marriott - born to a Blades-supporting family but who had a dismal loan spell at Hillsborough last season - pounced on Jack Robinson's dithering and equalised.

The Blades continued to attack as if nothing had happened but Norrington-Davies was fortunate not to be punished after being caught in similar circumstances in first-half stoppage time.

The first save of the second half was Wes Foderingham's, a double save to deny Marriott. It was the last time Posh were in the game.

When Sharp swapped passes with John Fleck, the midfielder's finish was not the cleanest but it was deadly accurate and when you have not scored since January 2020, you do not care how the next one comes.

Two minutes later Ndiaye played Sharp in and he got to the byline to square for Osborn to arrive onto at the near post.

Gibbs-White got his goal in the 69th-minute when Ndiaye returned the earlier favour, although it was more about the almighty blast the man on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers gave it with the outside of his boot to score from a tight angle.

Two minutes later Ndiaye was heading in a Sharp cross after the captain ran onto Osborn's backheel. Rather than celebrate, he convulsed in cramp as he hit the turf - no wonder after such an energetic display.

Peterborough scored a late consolation, substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris converting the penalty when John Egan tried to tackle him from the wrong side but it could barely have been more scant.

But with Luke Freeman going close twice after coming off the bench, it was left to Osborn to round off a magnificent afternoon for his team, chasing onto Oli McBurnie's nutmegged pass.

This was the sort of football Jokanovic was searching for in August. Hopefully his team's season starts now.

Sheffield United: Foderingham; Baldock, Egan, Robinson, Norrington-Davies; Fleck, Norwood (Hourihane 71); Gibbs-White (McBurnie 77), Ndiaye (Freeman 71), Osborn; Sharp.

Unused substitutes: Basham, Brewster, Bogle, Verrips.

Peterborough United: Pym; Knight, Kent, Butler; Ward, Coventry, Norburn (Taylor 63), Burrows, Szmodics (Grant 71); Marriott (Clarke-Harris 71), Dembele.

Unused substitutes: Edwards, Cornell, Tomlinson, Randall.

Referee: S Martin (Staffordshire).