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How do surprise package Sheffield United compare to promoted sides of the past?

Chris Wilder’s side sit seventh in the table – a Europa League place as it stands.

How do surprise package Sheffield United compare to promoted sides of the past?

Sheffield United continue to make waves in their first season back in the Premier League – but how do they compare to the great promoted sides of the past?

Chris Wilder’s side sit seventh in the table – a Europa League place as it stands, given second-placed Manchester City’s Carabao Cup win combined with their ban from UEFA competition subject to appeal.

Only four teams have ever finished higher in the season after promotion – here, the PA news agency looks at how they stack up.

Newcastle, 1993-94

Kevin Keegan
Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle side were stylish and successful (David Jones/PA)

Outside the Premier League for the first year after its rebranding, the Magpies were among the first crop of teams to step up and quickly made their presence felt.

They finished with 77 points in what at the time was a 42-game season, swaggering to third place behind Manchester United and Blackburn and scoring a league-high 82 goals. Kevin Keegan’s entertainers finished sixth the following year and memorably came up just short of the title in 1996-97, their second successive runner-up finish, before crashing back to earth.

Nottingham Forest, 1994-95

Stuart Pearce, centre left, celebrates with his Forest team-mates after scoring against Middlesbrough
Stuart Pearce, centre left, celebrates with his Forest team-mates after scoring against Middlesbrough (Rui Vieira/PA)

Newcastle’s achievement was matched the following year as Forest also finished third on 77 points under Frank Clark’s management and Stuart Pearce’s captaincy, with only goal difference separating the top two on our chart.

They had already been relegated and promoted from the top flight by that point and, after a respectable ninth-placed finish in 1995-96, they yo-yoed twice more and have yet to return since.

Blackburn, 1992-93

Alan Shearer celebrates Blackburn's title win just three seasons after promotion
Alan Shearer and Blackburn were building towards even bigger achievements (John Giles/PA)

One of the starring names in the early seasons of the new-look competition, Rovers built their platform with a fourth-placed finish in the first season having risen from the old Division Two just in time to play their part.

Alan Shearer top-scored with 16 goals and remained the key man, eventually joined by Chris Sutton in a deadly strikeforce, as Rovers finished second and then first in the following two seasons. The adventure lasted until relegation in 1999, while they returned for a respectable second spell between 2002 and 2012.

Ipswich, 2000-01

George Burley
George Burley’s Ipswich burned brightly but briefly (Andrew Parsons/PA)

George Burley led the newly-elevated Tractor Boys to fifth on 66 points, now from 38 games, and qualification for Europe as only Chelsea’s Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scored more than Marcus Stewart’s 19 Premier League goals that season.

They made waves in the following season’s UEFA Cup – beating Torpedo Moscow and Helsingborg and winning their first leg against Serie A giants Inter Milan 1-0 before a heavy second-leg reversal – but were relegated and have yet to return, currently sitting in League One.

Sheffield United, 2019-20

The second-best defensive record in the top flight, just 25 goals conceded in 28 games, has the Blades also dreaming of Europe just three years after climbing out of League One.

They have lost only seven of their 28 games and are level on points with last season’s promoted star turn Wolves – they also finished seventh on their debut, with the Blades currently shading both them and the seventh-placed Sunderland newcomers of 1999-2000 on points per game.

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