SHEFFIELD UNITED: Blades must tighten up the defence

Influential figure: Neill Collins shone at the back for United but the team needs to tighten up.'         Picture: Steve parkin
Influential figure: Neill Collins shone at the back for United but the team needs to tighten up.' Picture: Steve parkin

THEY were highly prolific. Indeed, no one other than the champions of England could match Sheffield United’s goalscoring feats of last season.

They scored 92 goals in the league and to average two goals a games is a mightily impressive strike-rate.

With a scorer of a third of them, Ched Evans, no longer around, United have a lot of goals to find from somewhere next season and strikers who can score with such regularity are not easy to find.

It will, therefore, throw fresh emphasis onto one aspect of United’s game next season - an aspect that their lethal finishing was able to cover up last time.

They conceded 51 goals, a higher figure than any team who finished in the top seven.

In addition, they would have hoped for more clean sheets in the second half of the season than they managed. Ironically, when their striker resources were severely depleted come the play-offs, they then produced three clean sheets.

No one would dispute that young Harry Maguire and the man alongside him, Neill Collins, had excellent seasons, both as individuals and collectively.

But, next season, manager Danny Wilson will know United need to be even tighter defensively to compensate for the missing goals.

They did manage a reasonable enough 15 clean sheets in the league but only two in the final 17 games.

United will have a new goalkeeper next season too as they look to compensate for the likelihood of fewer goals going in at the business end.

Evans’ premature finish last season actually checked a scoring sequence that had not been bettered for 35 years.

He had scored in seven successive games for United before he was jailed the day before the game at MK Dons.

One has to go back to the spring of April 1977 to find something longer. On that occasion Keith Edwards scored in eight successive matches in what was then League Two (now The Championship).

The prolific Edwards, now a matchday radio summariser on Blades games, also has a seven-on-the-trot to his credit. This was in 1984 when United were in Division Three, equivalent to the current League One.

James Beattie scored in five games on the trot in 2008 as did Tony Philliskirk in 1987.