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Know your enemy: Sheffield United

14 July 2014

A look at how the Blades are shaping up in pre-season

LAST SEASON 
A mixed campaign saw the Yorkshire side suffer a disastrous start before pulling clear of the drop zone and just miss out on the play-off places. 
After kicking the 2013-14 season off with a 2-1 home victory over Notts County, the Blades failed to win another match whilst David Weir was in charge of the club. He was sacked and Nigel Clough's arrival as manager sparked an upturn in fortunes that included a nine-game winning streak in all competitions in February. 
The Blades just missed out on the play-offs but they did enjoy a trip to Wembley after a great FA Cup run saw them reach the semi-final stages before losing to Hull City. 

THE MANAGER – NIGEL CLOUGH 
Son of the legendary Brian Clough, Nigel began his managerial career along with playing duties at Burton Albion in 1998 and Nigel would go on to spent 11 years with the Brewers, playing a part in their rise to the Football League in 2009, although he left prior to Burton sealing promotion to join Derby County. 
Clough would go on to spend four years at the Rams – following in the footsteps of his father who also managed County. In 2013 he was relieved of his duties at Pride Park but wasn't out of the game long as Sheffield United appointed him their manager in October 2013.
As a player, Clough played 14 times for England. He began his career at Nottingham Forest under his father and scored 101 goals in 311 games which earned the Sunderland-born striker a move to Liverpool. He struggled to break into the first team on a regular basis at Anfield though and made the short move to Manchester City. 
A loan move back to Forest failed to re-light the flame, as did a similar stint with Sheffield Wednesday, and in 1998 he went to Burton, playing until 2008 and totalling 227 appearances for the club. 

VISITING THE GROUND? 
With a capacity of over 32,000, Bramall Lane is the biggest stadium in League One. The ground has previously hosted Premier League football and the visiting Crawley contingent will once again be housed in the Jessica Ennis Stand (Lower) for our visit to the steel city in August. 

SUMMER BUSINESS SO FAR
 It's been a very busy summer so far for the Blades with a number of players coming in and out of Bramall Lane. 
Chris Basham has joined from Blackpool and Marc McNulty has arrived from Livingston. 
Andy Butler has returned to his native county after spending the last few years with Walsall and much-travelled Jamal Campbell-Ryce has also arrived on a free transfer. James Wallace has been snapped up from Tranmere Rovers whilst Ben Davies has joined from Derby. 
Connor Coady has finished his loan at the club and returned to Liverpool while Callum McFadzean – brother of former Crawley man Kyle – has joined Burton on a season-long loan. 

THEY PLAYED FOR BOTH
Billy Clarke has a loan spell with the Blades before joining Crawley from Blackpool in 2011, scoring once during his time at Bramall Lane. Our current striker Izale McLeod has a short loan spell with Sheffield United in 2004. 
Others to have represented both Crawley and Sheffield United include Lewis Killeen and Jonathan Forte. 

PREVIOUS MEETINGS 
In our first meeting with the Blades at the Checkatrade.com Stadium, Tony McMahon netted twice to secure a 2-0 win for the visitors. However, the reverse fixture at Bramall Lane saw Crawley gain revenge as goals from Billy Clarke and Paul Hayes sealed a memorable 2-0 victory. 
Last season sawCrawley drew 1-1 with the Blades at Bramall Lane thanks to Jamie Proctor's tap in, but lost 2-0 against Nigel Clough's men at the Checkatrade.com Stadium. 

WHAT THE BOOKIES THINK 
Sheffield United are 11/4 to gain promotion from League One in 2014-15, making them the favourites to win the division.

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