Sheffield United’s expected line-up on Sunday cost just £17.7million to assemble, while Manchester United’s set them back a whopping £305m. That means Sheffield United’s team value is just 5.8 per cent of Manchester United’s.
Admittedly the Sheffield United figure would be almost doubled should they start their record signing, £17m striker Oli McBurnie, but that figure still pales in comparison to the embarrassment of riches not available for Manchester United.
Five players out injured for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cost a total of £218m – that’s Paul Pogba (£90m), Nemanja Matic (£40m), Eric Bailly (£34m), Luke Shaw (£34m) and Diogo Dalot (£20m).
The most expensive player in Manchester United’s line-up will, ironically, be Sheffield United academy graduate Harry Maguire, who cost £80m from Leicester City in the summer. United’s £305m total comes from seven transfer fees, with four academy products expected to start at Bramall Lane.
Conversely, Sheffield United are only expected to start three players who cost over £1m. They are defender John Egan (£4m), midfielder Oliver Norwood (£2m) and striker Lys Mousset (£10m).
Three of their XI were signed on free transfers and five for six-figure sums. Those include goalkeeper Simon Moore, signed from Cardiff for £500,000 in 2016, who is expected to start in place of Dean Henderson, who is ineligible due to the terms of his loan from Manchester United.
It doesn’t get any prettier reading here for Manchester United fans.
Despite finishing sixth last season and sitting in mid-table this campaign, they have the highest wage bill in the Premier League at £171m.
Sheffield United’s, by contrast, is the lowest in the Premier League at £14m.
Those figures are according to spotrac.com, with slight tweaks made owing to discrepancies in Daniel James, Scott McTominay and Alexis Sanchez’s salaries.
Staggeringly, Manchester United are paying Sanchez, on loan at Inter Milan and currently injured, more than Sheffield United are paying their entire squad. Inter are paying around £4.5m of Sanchez’s £21m annual salary.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is most famous for scoring the goal that won Manchester United the Champions League in 1999, while Chris Wilder cut his managerial teeth in non-league with Alfreton Town, Halifax Town and Oxford United.
Wilder, 52, had been managing for nine years before he took charge of his first Football League match with Oxford, having guided them to promotion from via the Conference play-offs in 2010. He earned next club Northampton promotion to League One in 2016 before earning two promotions in three seasons with hometown club Sheffield United.
Solskjaer, 46, has far less experience than Wilder, who has racked up nearly 1,000 matches to his 320, and failed in his first stint as a manager in England with Cardiff City. He was successful in two spells at Molde in Norway and has had a mixed start at Manchester United, losing 13 of 47 matches in all competitions.
Solskjaer is on a contract worth £7.5m-a-year while Wilder earns around £1m-a-year.
This is the first time the two clubs have met in the Premier League since November 2006, and Manchester United have a 100 per cent record in the six league fixtures since 1992.
The most recent meeting was an FA Cup tie in January 2016, which Manchester United also won, while they have 20 league wins compared to Sheffield United’s one in 1898. Sheffield United have won the FA Cup four times to Manchester United’s 12.
Despite the financial and historical mismatch between these two proud old clubs, it is Sheffield United who go into Sunday’s match on better form and above Manchester United in the table.
They have already beaten Arsenal at Bramall Lane and will fancy their chances of another upset when Solskjaer, Maguire and Co come to town.
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