Hi, I’m Ben Meakin and I host and produce BladesPod, the Sheffield United podcast.
I first started supporting United in 1995, thanks to the massive Blade that is my dad, and it’s great to see the good times back at Bramall Lane.
What are you most excited about heading into the new season?
Seeing how Chris Wilder and our unique style of football will work in the Premier League. We might finish near the bottom, but we’re certainly not here to make up the numbers: we’ll go for the win more often than we hang on for a point.
We play an attacking formation that’s committed to getting our centre-backs forward and creating overloads down the sides – it causes havoc for defences. How effective it will be in the Premier League is a major point of intrigue.
What worries you ahead of the new season?
The bottom third of the Premier League looks a lot tougher than it did 12 months ago, with no obvious Huddersfield, Cardiff, or Fulham this year (maybe Newcastle?). I think we’ll be better than a lot of pundits think, but whether that’ll be enough to finish above three other teams remains to be seen.
What have you made of your club’s transfer activity this summer?
About as good as we could possibly have hoped for. We’ve spent money – and spent it wisely – on young, hungry, attacking players with something to prove at the top level. Apart from the return of club legend, Phil Jagielka, all our signings are in the 23-27-year-old range and all show signs of promise.
Callum Robinson, Luke Freeman and Oli McBurnie were three of the best attackers in the Championship last season, and Ravel Morrison and Lys Mousset add some exciting wildcard potential. Dean Henderson returns on loan to keep net too, so the defence that kept 21 clean sheets last season is still intact.
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What unpopular opinion do you have about your team going into the season?
As much as I absolutely love the guy, I think this is the season that fan favourite Chris Basham may be out of his depth. Bash has such a unique skill set that’s hard to replace: his ambling, awkward-looking rampages forward from right centre-back have been a key part of our attacks in the past couple of seasons.
If I had to pick one player for whom the Premier League may be a bridge too far, though, it’d be the man affectionately known as ‘Bashambauer’.
Who would win if your squad had a WWE Royal Rumble style fight?
Billy Sharp is so elusive in the penalty area that I doubt anyone would be able to get a hold of him in a Royal Rumble. He’s also perfected the Mick Foley “Mr Socko” celebration, as demonstrated after scoring against Norwich City last season.
Foley is now an honorary Blade and was a guest of honour at the Lane last season, so I’m sure he’ll have given Sharp a few pro-tips.
Where do you think your team will realistically finish in the Premier League?
16th. We need to win 10-12 games to stay up, and our aggression in trying to get those wins will give us the edge over more conservative teams that play in a risk-averse fashion.
We had the best defence in the Championship last season and we’ve significantly bolstered our attack with players who can create something out of nothing. Oh, and we also have the best manager in the land, as voted for by his peers at the LMA Awards last season. I like our chances, and I can’t wait for us to get started.