THE road to the top two for Sheffield United may seem long and winding after failing to pick up a win in League One action since Boxing Day.
But the Blades can take solace from the history of automatically promoted teams from English football’s third tier. In fact Unitedites can be consoled by the fact it is unlikely they’ll need to reach last season’s points total of 90 to reclaim their place in the Championship.
Only twice in the past 10 seasons have clubs cracked the 90 point barrier when finishing second - last season Wednesday went on their unbeaten streak to reach 93 points and in the 2010/11 campaign when Nigel Adkins inspired Southampton to their first of successive promotions.
The average points total to finish in a top two position since Crewe went up in the 2002/03 season is 86.
Crewe achieved that tally as did Hull City in 2004/06 and Leeds United in 2009/10.
The lowest number of points to earn promotion since 2003 is Colchester United’s seemingly paltry total of 79 in 2005/06.
If 86 points is enough it leaves United needing 38 more from their 18 remaining matches.
Managers will say that two-points per game is what they aim for over a season to finish in the top two. United will need to average slightly higher than that (2.1 points-per-match) between now and the end of the season.
Their current rate is 1.71 points-per-match, which would give them 78 points if maintained over the whole 46 match campaign.
Last night Blades striker Chris Porter was being linked with a loan move to League Two Cheltenham Town.
Porter, aged 29, has scored six goals in 26 appearances for the Blades since his switch from Derby County in July 2011.
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