Only promotion will be enough for the Blades next season

Sheffield United’s new-found attacking swagger under Nigel Clough convinced winger Ryan Flynn to commit his future to the Blades.

Ryan Flynn leads the salute to fans after Sheffield United's final game of the season, against Coventry City (Picture: Martyn Harrison).

Under former manager David Weir, the Blades employed a patient, controlled build-up with Flynn’s attacking threat curbed.

United suffered a terrible start to the campaign, failing to win in a dozen games after their opening-day victory over Notts County with Flynn failing to find the target. That poor form cost Weir his job.

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But the 25-year-old has been a key member of Clough’s team since the new manager arrived in October – Flynn scored in Clough’s opening game, a 3-1 win over Crewe – and has netted seven goals this season.

The last of those came in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Coventry City which saw United finish seventh in League One, just one place below the play-offs.

Clough had earlier signed Flynn to a new two-year contract, and alongside fellow winger Jamie Murphy, the two widemen look set to lead United’s promotion bid next season.

Asked if he had considered following others, like Kevin McDonald, who joined Wolverhampton and will be playing in the Championship next term, the 25-year-old Falkirk product replied: “No, not at all. I have loved it here under the manager. The way we play, the way we go at teams, I have loved every minute.

“Again, I think that shows on the pitch. Not just for myself, but for the other boys. It’s been a real turnaround, it’s a great club.

“I have loved it here and when the manager asked me to stay there was no real thinking about it, it was always going to happen.”

There is a distinct feeling of ‘what if’ around Bramall Lane, after the Blades rocketed from 23rd to seventh in just three months. Another month of football and it would be hard to see United not having gatecrashed the play-offs.

Having come so close this year, despite such a lame start, there is no hiding the Blades’ target for next season in League One.

“Promotion? We are Sheffield United and that’s what you have to look to,” said Flynn, who spent four years at Anfield without breaking into Liverpool’s first team, although he helped them win successive FA Youth Cup finals in 2006 and 2007, scoring the winner against Manchester City in the second.

“I wish there had been a few more games this season really. There’s been a lot of games, but we wish there were three or four games left and we could have put the teams in the play-offs under pressure.

“It’s not to be, but promotion next season will definitely be our aim.”

Finishing just seven points off sixth-placed Peterborough United, it is easy to have imagined a different end-of-season scenario had the Blades not dropped points in recent games at Swindon Town (lost 2-1), Tranmere (drew 0-0) and Oldham (drew 1-1).

But Flynn insists that apart from banking the experience of playing through the bad times, he will not be poring over the results looking for what might have been.

He said: “I won’t look back at this season’s results. The way we started, we were always going to have a difficult task.

“We just have to look forward now. It’s been a very good three months, but we have to use that now as progression for next season.

“Next season there will be a tough spell, and maybe you can look back to the tough times this season, and use that experience to your advantage.”