Manager Nigel Clough is confident that Sheffield United can cope with the burden of expectation that they will carry next season.
And Clough, who guided United to a seventh-placed finish in League One after last weekend’s 2-1 win over Coventry City, believes that the Bramall Lane support will be instrumental in his side’s bid to bounce back to the Championship next season, at the fourth time of asking.
After a strong finish to the season, which saw them lose just two of their last 19 league games, United will begin the new campaign in August hot favourites for promotion, and Clough said: “We are prepared for that expectation.
“This is a big football club - we knew that when we came here, and that was one of the attractions of doing so.
“As [Coventry manager] Steven Pressley said on Saturday, it’s a ‘proper’ football club, and we have to cope with it.
“There will be expectation, of course, but we have to harness it. We have a good nucleus here - the lads have proved that over the last few months - and we’ll get a couple of players in to get us in that top six at least.”
“When you get that crowd behind you,” the former Derby boss continued, “it’s a brilliant thing to have on your side. Now we just need to get up a league, at least, sooner rather than later.
“But we’ve had almost two seasons in one - we’ve flirted with relegation, finished strongly and enjoyed an unbelievable cup run.
“We’ve put some smiles back on faces and brought a bit of optimism back, and long may it continue.”
Clough, who has placed a striker at the top of his summer wishlist, will continue to monitor Billy Sharp’s situation at Southampton.
The hitman, a boyhood Blades fan, finished the season on loan at Doncaster Rovers and is expected to be allowed to leave the Premier League side this summer.