Meet the opposition | Sheffield United
As Swansea City prepare to host Sheffield United at the Swansea.com stadium, we look at their history, form and key figures.
What's their story?
Established in 1889 as Sheffield United Football Club, the club are affectionately known as the Blades and play their home games at Bramall Lane.
The club were successful within the first decade of their formation, winning the league title in 1898 and winning the FA Cup in 1899, They have subsequently lifted the cup on three occasions, in 1902, 1915 and 1925.
The Blades were also one of the founding members of the Premier League, and they scored the first goal in the competition's history through striker Brian Deane.
The Yorkshire club have had three stints in England's top-flight since the turn of the millennium.
The most recent of those came following promotion in 2019, and United finished ninth under the stewardship of former player Chris Wilder the following season.
However, they were relegated the following season, and their attempt to bounce back to the top-flight at the first attempt ended in play-off defeat to Nottingham Forest.
How's their form?
The Blades have started the season strongly and have suffered just one defeat in their eight Championship games, with that coming against Watford on the opening weekend of the season.
They did suffer a Carabao Cup defeat to West Brom too, but they have served notice of their intent to once again challenge for promotion by topping the table at this early stage of the campaign.
Who’s the gaffer?
Paul Heckingbottom. The former defender took over as Blades boss at the end of November 2021, having previously been in interim charge following Chris Wilder’s departure with the south Yorkshire club heading for relegation from the Premier League.
A 17-year playing career saw Heckingbottom have spells with Manchester United, Sunderland, Scarborough, Hartlepool, Darlington, Norwich, Bradford, Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley, Mansfield, Gateshead and Harrogate before moving into coaching.
Having been born in Barnsley – and helping them beat the Swans in the 2006 League One play-off final as a player – he started his managerial career with his hometown club and he led them to more play-off success and a place in the Championship before an ill-starred spell with Leeds.
A stint in Scotland with Hibernian followed before returning to his native Yorkshire with the Blades, initially as under-23 coach, before stepping up in the wake of the exits of Wilder and Slavisa Jokanovic respectively.
Who's the captain?
Billy Sharp began his career in the Sheffield United academy in 2004. Since leaving the club in 2005, he has returned to the Blades on two separate occasions - in 2007 and 2015.
Sharp made history in 2019 when he scored his 220th professional goal, making him the highest-scoring English-born player in English professional football this century. Just a month later, Sharp bagged his 100th goal for the Blades in a 3-3 draw against Aston Villa.
More recently, he has become the highest scorer in the Championship’s history, with 128 goals now to his name in the second tier.
Over the course of his long career the 36-year-old has also featured for Scunthorpe, Doncaster, Southampton, Nottingham Forest, Reading and Leeds.
He has three promotions to his name – two with the Blades and one with Southampton.
Who are the key men?
French-born Senegalese International Iliman Ndiaye is the Blades' leading goal scorer this season with four goals in the opening eight matches.
Having appeared for the Blades in the Premier League in 2021, Ndiaye bagged a brace on his full league debut against Peterborough United last term, going on to net seven times in 35 appearances in all competitions.
His form earned him his first international appearance in June against Benin.
Norway International Sander Berge is the Blades club record signing, after joining from Genk for £22 million in 2020.
After spending much of the 2020-21 season on the treatment table as United dropped out of the top-flight, Berge was back to his best under Heckingbottom last season helping his side to a fifth-placed finish.
A creative presence at the heart of the Blades midfield, Berge has contributed directly to five of the club's 16 goals so far this season, scoring three and assisting two.
Experienced Northern Ireland midfielder Oliver Norwood is the no-nonsense midfield partner of Berge in the Blades engine room.
The former Manchester United trainee has been a mainstay in the team since his £2.2 million 2019 move from Brighton, with his consistent displays seeing him amass 142 appearances in all competitions.
Norwood has plenty of experience of what it takes to gain promotion from the Championship, having achieved the feat with the Blades, Brighton and Fulham.