When Paddy Kenny signed on a short-term loan deal for Sheffield United in 2002 as cover for Simon Tracey, not many of the club’s supporters would have predicted the impact that he would go on to have at Bramall Lane.
After delivering a number of impressive performances for the Blades, Neil Warnock brought him in on a permanent deal, a decision which proved to be a masterstroke by the manager.
An incredibly successful debut campaign at the club for the shot-stopper culminated in a Division One play-off final appearance against Wolverhampton Wanderers. With a return to the top-flight being the prize on offer, United ultimately fell woefully short at the Millenium Stadium as goals from Mark Kennedy, Nathan Blake and Kenny Miller gave their opponents a famous victory.
Although the year did indeed end in heartbreak, the fact that the club reached the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and the League Cup was an astonishing achievement when you consider that they were a second-tier side at the time.
After missing out on a top-six finish in the following campaign, the 2005/06 season proved to be a special one for the Blades and Kenny. Now fully established as the club’s first-choice keeper, the former Bury ace featured in every single one of his side’s fixtures as they secured promotion to the top flight by finishing second behind runaway leaders Reading.
Keen to prove himself at the highest level, Kenny was arguably one of the club’s best players in 2007 yet even his heroics were not enough to stop them from being relegated in controversial circumstances. With the Blades needing a win to avoid the drop against Wigan Athletic, they instead suffered a heartbreaking defeat at Bramall Lane which was compounded by West Ham United’s 1-0 victory at Manchester United.
Carlos Tevez, who was the scorer of the goal at Old Trafford, had been signed by the Irons illegally in January, a scandal which eventually forced the club to pay £20m over a number of seasons to the Blades in 2009 (via The Guardian).
United made a return to the play-off final two years after their relegation with Kenny keeping goal yet again. However, he was powerless to stop Burnley at Wembley Stadium as the Clarets secured a 1-0 victory.
Despite spending the majority of his career in South Yorkshire loved by the club’s fans, Kenny’s departure in 2010 to Queens Park Rangers was overshadowed by a failed drugs test that saw him receive a nine-month ban (via the Guardian).
With the Blades looking to replicate the promotion that they achieved during Kenny’s time this season, they may use the keeper’s previous escapades as inspiration over the next two weeks.
When the 40-year-old arrived at the club, nobody thought that he would be the man to lead them back into the Premier League which is extremely similar to when Chris Wilder was appointed in 2016. Yet with two games left to play between now and May, the United boss could be about to write another page in the side’s illustrious history.
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