Where do Sheffield United rank among the best promoted clubs?
Sheffield United are enjoying an incredible season and Saturday’s win over Bournemouth saw them move into fifth spot in the Premier League table.
Before the campaign kicked off in August, the newly-promoted South Yorkshire club were among the favourites to be relegated but with 39 points on the board already their drop fears are essentially already over.
Indeed, a place in Europe next term could well be on the agenda – but how do they stack up among the best promoted clubs in the history of the division?
You could argue the Blades should sit right at the top given their limited budget and the fact manager Chris Wilder has largely kept faith with the team that got them up, but for the basis of this list we’ve stuck with the stats and used points-per-game to determine the best performers as the number of teams in the league has changed over the years.
So far Sheffield United are averaging 1.50 points-per-game, the same total as Wolves managed as a newly-promoted outfit last season when they finished in seventh spot, but that isn’t enough to break into the all-time top five.
Joint 1: Newcastle United 1993/94 & Nottingham Forest 1994/95
Newcastle United set the benchmark in the second season of the Premier League under the guidance of Kevin Keegan. The Magpies’ success was in part down to the goalscoring exploits of Andy Cole, who finished the season as the league’s top-scorer with 34 goals. Keegan’s Newcastle nearly claimed the title a few years later in the 1995-96 season but they threw away a 12-point lead and allowed Manchester United to take the top prize.
Newcastle only held the outright record for one year as Nottingham Forest matched their 77-point total as a newly-promoted outfit the following season, with Forest also finishing in third spot. Like Newcastle, Forest’s success was down to having a striker in awesome form as Stan Collymore weighed in with 22 goals before joining Liverpool in the summer.
3: Ipswich Town 2000/01
Ipswich Town are now in the third tier of English football but have enjoyed two spells in the Premier League and the 2000/01 campaign was their most successful by far. The Tractor Boys were the favourites for the drop after winning promotion via the play-offs the season before but upset the odds with an unlikely Champions League qualification bid.
Ipswich managed 66 points and finished in fifth spot, securing a place in the UEFA Cup, but fell victims to second season syndrome as they were relegated the following year.
4: Blackburn Rovers 1992/93
Like Ipswich, Blackburn were promoted via the play-offs as they secured their spot in the first season of the Premier League’s existence. Alan Shearer joined in a British record £3.5million deal from Southampton in the summer and managed 16 goals in 21 games before a serious injury in a match against Leeds in December ended his season early.
Rovers had been battling for the title at that point, and had Shearer stayed fit for the season they may well have topped this list if not the league itself. Blackburn did manage to win the league in the 1994-95 season, with Shearer grabbing 34 goals as the Lancashire club finished one point ahead of Manchester United.
5: Sunderland 1999/00
Sunderland are currently stuck in League One but they have enjoyed three separate spells in the Premier League and their best season came as a newly-promoted club at the turn of the millennium.
Under the guidance of Peter Reid and with Kevin Phillips firing in 30 goals they came in seventh, having claimed the Division 1 title with a 105-point haul in the previous campaign.
As things stand, Sheffield United would come in joint sixth place alongside Wolves if they finish the season with an average of 1.50 points-per-game.