SHEFFIELD UNITED: History stands against United play-off bid

Staying positive: Boss Danny Wilson
Staying positive: Boss Danny Wilson

FIVE attempts, five excruciatingly painful failures.

Sheffield United have a dismal record in the play-offs.

In 1988, under Dave Bassett, the Blades lost their fight for survival in Division Two, the equivalent of today’s League One, after losing a two-legged play-off to Bristol City.

Back then, the play-off system involved the team finishing immediately above the relegation places in a given division and the three teams who finished outside the promotion places in the league below. Essentially one club fought to keep their place in the higher division while the other three teams tried to take it from them.

But, although the format has changed, United’s fortunes have not improved. The club, along with Reading, have the unenviable record of losing a play-off final at the Old Wembley, the Millennium Stadium and the New Wembley.

Crystal Palace (1997), Wolverhampton Wanderers (2003) – then managed by current Wednesday chief Dave Jones – and Burnley (2009) have all beaten the Blades at the final hurdle. The South Yorkshire club also lost to Sunderland at the semi-final stage over two legs in 1998.

Despite amassing 90 points during the 2011/12 campaign, United will have to contend again with the play-off lottery, starting with Stevenage this Friday.

But manager Danny Wilson is determined to lead the club to Wembley glory.

Wilson, who could be without striker James Beattie following his red card at Exeter City, said: “Our preparations will be thorough.

“We have got two very difficult games in front of us but we are confident.”