DANNY Wilson has warned his players they will be marked men in League One next season.
The Sheffield United manager, who was unveiled as Micky Adams’s successor last month, made the prediction ahead of the most important summer in the recent history of Bramall Lane.
United dispensed with Adams’s services after he failed to prevent them from sliding into the third tier of English football for the first time in over two decades.
It completed a remarkable fall from grace for a team which, just five years ago, was celebrating promotion to the Premiership.
“Everyone is going to want to beat us,” said Wilson, “And that’s going to be something we’re going to have to get used to – fast.
“We are going to be one of the scalps that all the other teams want. When they come to our ground it’s going to be one of the highlights of the season for them and they’ll be treating it like a cup final. That means we are going to need character as well as quality. We’re going to have to work doubly hard.
“We should take heart from the fact that others view us in that regard but, at the same time, there’s no point in denying that it doesn’t bring certain pressures too.
“Do we have the people here who can cope with that? I’d like to think so but there’s only one way we are going to find out for sure.”
United expect to lose key names such as Ched Evans, Stephen Quinn and Darius Henderson as a direct result of being relegated.
Middlesbrough are monitoring Evans’s situation but must off-load Kris Boyd before submitting an official bid.
Swansea City and Wigan Athletic are deciding whether to approach United about the possibility of signing Quinn. Leeds could also firm-up their interest in Nick Montgomery when Bradley Johnson formally completes his move to Norwich City.
Fellow midfielder Neil Kilkenny, a long-standing target of Doncaster Rovers, also appears likely to depart Elland Road.
Wilson, who recently insisted United remain a big draw in the transfer market, held talks with Jordan Slew’s representative after Fulham had an offer, believed to be worth around £500,000, rejected for the teenage striker.
However, The Star understands there has been no further contact from Craven Cottage since Mark Hughes’s resignation.
Like Wilson, academy director John Pemberton recently told members of United’s FA Youth Cup final side they would be better served by continuing their education in South Yorkshire rather than seeking transfers elsewhere.