Sheffield United v Crystal Palace - Blades can take heart from visitors

AMID the doom and gloom prevalent at Sheffield United during this term, the arrival of the two final Premier League teams to visit Bramall Lane before the hosts return to the Championship provides a modicum of hope.

Today’s opponents Crystal Palace are a side who have previously been relegated from the top flight and successfully regrouped several times over.

In the history of the Premier League, the Eagles have dropped out on four separate occasions and made the return journey.

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The Blades’ final-day visitors on May 23 in Burnley are another example to follow.

Paul Heckingbottom: Actions speak louder than words. Picture: Sportimage

Following relegation after one season in the big time in 2014-15, the Clarets went straight back up in the next campaign.

Next year will be the club’s sixth successive season in the biggest league in the world. It will be Palace’s ninth.

Blades caretaker-chief Paul Heckingbottom, mindful of the way in which similarly comparable clubs to the Blades in Norwich and Watford have made a swift top-flight return in 2020-21, said: “You have to build that way. You can name all the teams who have done that and I am not speaking out of turn, but it is building blocks and baby steps.

“You have to look at them and the wages they are paying to attract the players and maintain and keep players in the Premier League and to gradually build.

“While you are building on the pitch, you have also got to build off it. Two seasons in the Premier League and the payments that go with it and the parachute payments, mean that, financially, we should be in a better place.

“Certainly, if we go up next season, we will certainly be in a better place financially than when we first went up.”

In a season of painful blows, the Blades passive first-half performance in another comprehensive defeat at Spurs last Sunday represented a fresh low.

For Heckingbottom and the players, deeds and not words are the only thing that matter now as the Blades seek to claw back a touch of pride.

He added: “I said straight after the game that it was pointless dressing it up and pretending that you were happy with things you were not happy with. We know, but the players know.

“They know when we are not giving a good performance and you do not enjoy playing like that in the first half and I did not enjoy watching that.

“There is no point shying away from it and we spoke about it and the only way of putting it to bed is the game on Saturday and that is it.

“I say to everyone and include myself in this. Words are fine and you can say what you want, but you will always be judged by your actions.”

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