League One preview: Sheffield United could banish some demons

 

If there's one team Sheffield United aren't
going to take for granted this season, it's Oldham. The Blades had three weeks
fewer than most clubs in League One to prepare for the new campaign but theirs
was the longest summer, reflecting on where it all went wrong in the race for automatic
promotion last term.

You can never say for sure how things might have turned out in the event of one minor alteration, but high on the list of regrets will be their failure to close out a 2-0 lead against the Latics at Bramall Lane last March. Even when Matthew Lowton was sent off, United appeared to be in no danger but Paul Dickov's men fought back to win 3-2 and land odds of 6/1.

And it's easy to see value in the 4/6 about the Blades exacting revenge this weekend because they were 1/2 for the last meeting, yet, in broad terms, we're not convinced the difference between the two sides has shifted all that much. United should be gunning for automatic promotion again and Oldham will spend most of the campaign treading water in the bottom half.

The mood around the red and white half of the Steel City remains one of healthy uncertainty. It's not just Oldham that provoke unease, nobody is taking anything for granted, yet the quality is there to repeat the efforts of last term and another 90-point haul would probably take the title this time around.

Some will argue that performances have been unconvincing so far but an 11-match unbeaten start is impressive way of coming to terms with a play-off hangover. It's a sample littered with draws but the last two matches have provided Danny Wilson with real encouragement, the Blades showing great character to snatch maximum points from tough trips to Hartlepool and Leyton Orient.

Oldham will head over the Pennines with confidence but that's to their detriment because we consider it to be misplaced. The Latics have posted impressive wins over Crewe and Preston in their last two outings, and Dickov has been gushing in his praise of the players, but there's a danger that might temper their competitive edge.

All things considered, the Blades should be too strong and we expect their class to shine through.

Meanwhile, Bury come up against their former boss Richie Barker at Crawley but Kevin Blackwell's presence will ensure the nicities towards the popular Yorkshireman end as soon as the players emerge from the visiting dressing room. Take some of the 9/2 about the away win at Broadfield Stadium.

The reasoning behind this bet should fairly self-explanatory from our feature on Blackwell earlier this week. The former Leeds and Sheffield United boss read the riot act to his players after their 1-0 home defeat to Swindon last weekend and a reaction should be expected.

The contrast in styles between Barker and Blackwell is huge, the former being much more composed and level-headed in the realm of man-management, but his prior knowledge of the Bury players' strengths and weaknesses might count for little if Blackwell's cold-shoulder tactic does the trick. Intensity might be the decisive factor.

The Red Devils have made a solid start but we think their reputation as a well-to-do club goes before them and some opposing teams are giving them a bit more respect than they perhaps deserve. As such, they are a team to be taken on at big prices and this fixture fits the bill nicely.

Finally, Tranmere have exceeded all expectations so far but Gary Johnson makes some interesting points about the nature of such early-season randomness in the build-up to this match and we think his Yeovil side are well-placed to restore some sense of natural order at Prenton Park on Saturday.

Ronnie Moore's men wrote the headlines with victory in their top-of-the-table clash at Notts County last Saturday but it could be the prelude to an after-the-Lord-Mayor's-show display against the Glovers and, in that scenario, familiarity might well breed contempt.

Yeovil have been at this level for the past six seasons, so they know Tranmere better than most, and they won't easily be kidded into thinking that the current table represents how it will look at the end of the season. In that context, odds of nearly 5/1 about the away win have some appeal. The Somerset club won five and drawn two of the last eight meetings with the boys from Birkenhead.

Betting advice...

3pts Sheff Utd to beat Oldham at 4/6 (Bet Victor)
Improving Blades will be duly switched on and look a solid bet to pick up maximum points.

1pt Bury to beat Crawley at 9/2 (Sky Bet)
Rock-bottom Shakers can stun their former boss in order to please his replacement.

1pt Yeovil to beat Tranmere at 19/4 (Stan James)
Rovers are overachieving and Glovers can restore some sense of order to the league table.

For more betting advice, visit Best of the Bets by clicking here.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own