IT’S hard to feel positive following Sheffield United’s 3-1 defeat to relegation rivals Preston North End, a result that has made demotion to League One all but inevitable.
But this time next year we might look back on this fixture as a defining moment in the fortunes of Sheffield United, the start of a new and exciting era.
The inclusion of teenagers Harry Maguire and Jordan Slew in the starting line up marked a shift in philosophy from using loanee journeymen, to using the fruit of our own Academy.
Both impressed, Maguire looking assured beyond his years, and Slew looking sharp and lively and bagging a well deserved goal.
Judging by the noises coming out of Bramall Lane, it is clear an extra emphasis has been put on youth, with a number of prospects earmarked to become the core of the new look Blades.
In addition to Maguire and Slew, Matt Lowton has made a positive impact on the first team this season, Danny Philliskirk has signed from Chelsea, and Norwegian youngsters Erik Tonne and Kristoffer Lokberg, and Irish duo David McAllister and Seamus Conneely have also been brought into the club.
Also, John Pemberton’s youth side have made it through to the final of the FA Youth Cup.
So are Sheffield United on the dawn of unleashing a new golden generation of home grown telent on the world of football?
Only time will tell, of course, but the early signs are encouraging.
If we are relegated, which is more or less a formality now, one would imagine these younger players will stand more of a chance of being blooded in the first team in League One that if we stayed in the Championship.
And I for one am excited by the prospect of a team of exciting young players spearheading the Blades to the League One title next May.
The future’s bright. The future’s red and white.
THE SHARP BLADE