Rovers are set to host Sheffield United this Friday evening in their final pre-season game ahead of the 2018/19 Sky Bet League One campaign.
The clash with the Blades is Rovers' final pre-season friendly ahead of their second season back in Sky Bet League One, which begins with a trip to Southend United on August 4. Rovers have so far won three and lost two of their pre-season games, with a 1-0 win over Alfreton Town and a 5-0 victory at Frickley Athletic being followed up by back-to-back defeats against Birmingham City and Grimsby Town.
Rovers got back to winning ways on Wednesday night however, defeating United Counties League Premier Division side Deeping Rangers 8-1, with Alfie May scoring a second-half hat-trick, alongside a wonder goal from James Coppinger.
Brief history on Sheffield United
Sheffield United play at the 32,702-capacity Bramall Lane stadium. It is the oldest major stadium in the world still be hosting professional association football matches.
The Blades won the original Football League in 1898 and have also won the FA Cup in 1899, 1902, 1915 and 1925. They have also reached the semi-finals of the competition as recently as 2003 and 2014. They have also had good runs in the League Cup as they reached the semi-finals in both 2003 and 2015.
However, despite their success in the past, they endured a frustrating six-year spell in League One recently before they eventually secured promotion back to the Championship in the 2016/17 campaign under the management of Chris Wilder. They exceeded expectations in their first season back in the second tier as they flirted with the play-offs throughout before eventually finishing 10th.
Wilder will be hoping that they can push on and secure a place in the top six next season and give themselves a chance of securing promotion to the Premier League.
Who’s in charge?
Chris Wilder, a boyhood Sheffield United fan, was appointed as the club’s manager in May 2016 on a three-year contract following the parting of company with Nigel Adkins. He has been extremely successful in his first two seasons in charge, winning promotion back to the Championship and coming close to securing a place in the play-offs.
He has so far overseen 103 matches as manager of the club, winning 55, drawing 20 and losing 28. This has given him a win percentage of 53.4% which is an impressive record at any level.
He did arrive at Bramall Lane with some previous managerial experience. He has previously managed Halifax Town, Oxford United and Northampton Town. He made a name for himself as a manager at Northampton by keeping them in the Football League before eventually guiding them into League One.
Ones to watch
The 32-year-old striker is well-known with Rovers supporters, becoming a fan favourite following his prolific spell at the club between 2009-12, as well as a short loan spell in 2014. In total he made over 100 appearances for the club, scoring 45 goals. He left the club for Southampton in January 2012 for a fee of around £1.8 million which remains the highest fee that Rovers have ever received for a player. He returned to Sheffield United in 2015 and has so far scored 64 goals in 124 appearances, whilst also being handed the club captaincy.
The 32-year-old playmaker played a key role in the Blades’ success last season, as he often dictated games in midfield. Like Sharp, he is well-known to Rovers fans, spending the 2013-14 season at the Keepmoat Stadium following two years with Scunthorpe United. He joined the club on a free transfer following his release from Birmingham City in 2016 and has now established himself as a vital player. He has so far made 75 appearances for the club scoring nine goals.
The 33-year-old striker signed for the Blades in July 2016 on a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee from Bury. Clarke was one of the most prolific strikers in the Championship last season as he scored 18 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions for Wilder’s side. He will be hoping he can replicate that sort of form again next season.
Last time out
These two sides last met in League One in February 2016 as the Blades came out as 1-0 winners at the Keepmoat. Che Adams put his side ahead just before half-time and this was enough to secure his side all three points.
Want to go to the game?
Ticket prices for the game against Sheffield United are as follows:
Adult – General £10, Silver Member £9.50
Senior (60+) – General £5, Silver Member £4.50
Young Adult 22-24 – General £5, Silver Member £4.50
Young Adult 18-21 – General £5, Silver Member £4.50
17 & Under – General £1, Silver Member £0.50