While the Covid-19 virus has swept the globe and kept fans out of stadiums, it is the symptoms of second season syndrome that Sheffield United have displayed so far this campaign.
It doesn't take a genius to work out the Blades' results haven't been anywhere near good enough.
Taking only one point from the opening seven games has left Chris Wilder's side in lowly 19th place in the Premier League. After setting the world alight in their first season with their attacking, pressing football complete with overlapping centre backs, it's a surprise to see them start off the season so poorly.
Are United losing their shine?
In short, no. We are always quick to condemn teams in the Premier League but we must remember we are only seven games into the season.
The fixture list hasn't been the kindest to Wilder and his team so far and the Blades have had their fair share of bad luck this season.
Wolves found themselves 2-0 up after six minutes in the opening game, John Egan was sent off and John Lundstram missed a penalty in the 1-0 loss to Aston Villa, before an 88th minute Patrick Bamford header gave Leeds all three points in the game after. Things went from bad to worse when centre back Jack O'Connell injured his anterior cruciate ligament and was ruled out for the majority of the season.
Games against the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City were never likely to be easy fixtures. Mikel Arteta's side have looked impressive since he took over and Liverpool always seem to find a way to win.
At this point last season, Sheffield United had eight points on the board, but this year they have only one and sit 19th. But why is that? Is it down to the defence? Injuries? VAR?
No. It all comes down to the most crucial thing in football; goals. At this point last season, the Blades had already netted seven times as opposed to the three goals scored this term. The opposition was undoubtedly kinder, with their opening three games coming against Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Leicester.
The Blades are very much in transition with regards to their strikers. Billy Sharp is now 34, David McGoldrick is 32, Callum Robinson has left the club and Lys Mousset and new signing Rhian Brewster are both young and untested in the Premier League. That leaves a big weight on Oli McBurnie, who is yet to score in seven appearances this season. Shelling out a club record £23.5m on Brewster is a big gamble by Wilder, but the 11 goals scored in 22 games on loan at Swansea last season surely offers hopes of a bright future.
The other signings Wilder has made also show cause for optimism. Young full backs Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe are both attacking minded and offer decent cover for George Baldock and Enda Stevens, who both featured in all 38 games Premier League games last season. The addition of Chelsea hot prospect Ethan Ampadu is also a big boost after the loss of O'Connell.
The signing of Aaron Ramsdale has also looked promising so far after Dean Henderson returned to Manchester United following two years at Bramall Lane.
Wilder told Sky Sports: "It's no good moaning about the opposition and the fixture list. I'm consistent with what I say, it's the reason we want to be in the division. If you're going to moan and groan about it, maybe don't win promotion and don't do well to stay in the division.
"We fought against the odds to get into this division and to stay in this division and we will fight like hell to do that again. Nothing is just going to be given to us.
"We are all hurting because we feel we can do better than what we are doing and we can affect that going forward, blocking out the noise that comes with playing in the Premier League and concentrating on what we can affect."
Wilder's attitude to United's current predicament is why they will stay in the Premier League this season, as he and his side refuse to feel sorry for themselves and continue to work hard even when on the losing side.
The team from the Steel City have forged a great never say die mentality and will prove their quality to stay in the Premier League.
Source : 90min