Sheffield United [A] Preview - Aug 15th
Saturday brings the Hornet's first away league game of the season and a trip to that perennially "unhappy hunting ground" of late, Bramall Lane.
Yes that's right, Sheffield United, (aka Watford Reserves) play host to the real Hornets in a game which will be a stern test for Malky Mackay's men.
On paper, Sheffield United have one of the strongest squads in the division...but the game isn't played on paper so that doesn't mean they are without weakness though.
It has been another frustrating few months for the Blades - losing the Championship Play Off Final 1-0 to underdogs Burnley before seeing a pair of young gun Kyle's (Mssrs Naughton and Walker) depart for Spurs in an eyebrow raising £9m swoop.
Walker has since returned, but he's the least experienced of the two so Tranmere full-back Andy Taylor arrived as a replacement and made his debut in the drab 0-0 draw at 'Boro last week whilst Kevin Blackwell has drafted in roughly 14 wingers to boot.
Glenn Little, Jerome Thomas, Kyel Reid and Keith Treacey have all played their part in the Blades pre-season, Thomas unsuccessfully after his release by Pompey, but the other three have penned varying contracts. Treacey on loan from Blackburn until December.
With James Beattie departing last January, and replacement Jamie Ward not living up to expectations, former Manchester City striker Ched[wyn] Evans has been added to the already bulky Blades attack for the princely sum of £3m (or 1/10th of an Adebayor). Also in that Blades attack is former 'Orn, Darius Henderson. A mixture of injury and suspension limited him to just 7 goals last season, but comtroversial skipper Chris Morgan has declared Hendo "a massive part of the side's plans". Billy Sharp is also kicking about somewhere after two desperately unsuccessful seasons at Bramall Lane...he has now officially been acquainted with the transfer list.
In midfield, Lee Williamson made the move from WD18 to Yorkshire over the Summer for a fee of 500k after a loan spell at PNE. Good business for a player who has missed the entirety of pre-season and looks set to be out until December with a back problem. Brian Howard should fill in for Willo, and his creative left peg will be a danger - a danger which led to Barnsley declaring his value at around £10m, before letting him go for a bag of magic beans last November.
At the back, Leigh Bromby had a short calamitous spell with Watford and will surely be slinging the ball into the box in a Rory Delap-esque fashion. His loan move was made permanent this summer for 400k.
Finally, with Paddy Kenny, er, 'sidelined' for the foreseeable future, Mark Bunn has been drafted in on loan from Blackburn for a month and is expected to feature between the sticks after Ian Bennett's blunder in the c'upset against Port Vale .
So there you have Sheffield United, a team of vagabonds and former Hornets, yet somehow despite that, you get the feeling they will once again be up and around the promotion scene. Kevin Blackwell has the nouse to do it even if he's failed previously. [At our expense - I had to mention it somewhere!].
Likely Watford XI
Mariappa Williamson DeMerit (c) Doyley
McAnuf Jenkins Severin Cowie
Likely Sheffield Utd XI
Walker Bromby Morgan (c) Taylor
Cotterill Montgomery Quinn Treacy
Prediction 3-1 Sheffield United.