January the 31st 2016 marked the 5th year anniversary of centre half Neill Collins signing permanently for the club. Collins is United’s longest serving player and is one of the two Blades players who were involved in our relegation to League One in May 2011 (the other being George Long who made one appearance on the final day against Swansea). Collins made his debut in a 3-0 defeat against Ipswich at Portman Road on the 5th February. Here I look at what happened to the players he lined up alongside on his United debut.
Steve Simonson: Simonson had signed for the Blades permanently at the start of the 2010/2011 season after a loan spell the previous campaign. His United career will forever be remembered for missing the final penalty in the play-off final penalty shoot out against Huddersfield that ended United’s chances of bouncing back to The Championship at the first time of asking. After leaving the Blades, Simonson had short spells at Preston, Dundee and Rangers and is now playing his trade as back up keeper for Pune City who sit 7th in the Indian Super League.
Elian Parrino: Argentinian defender Parrino only managed 8 games for the Blades with all his appearances coming under the management of Micky Adams. An Injury in February ultimately put an end to his Blades career as Parrino was ruled out for the season. Surprisingly the season after newly appointed Blades boss Danny Wilson handed Parrino a one year extension to his deal but his contract was terminated in the following January after he failed to make an appearance in the Blades first team. He was set to join Lincoln City under former Blade David Holdsworth but a work permit could not be attained and Parrino ended up back in Argentina. His only other move outside of South America saw him join the Bulgarian outfit Lokomotiv Plovdiv but after just 9 games he was back in Argentina once more. He is currently plying his trade in the Chilian second division with Coquimbo Unido.
Shane Lowry: Joining on loan from Aston Villa, defender Lowry made 17 appearances in United’s relegation season. Best known for his aggressive style of play, Lowry managed to stay in the Championship after he left Bramall Lane when he moved to Millwall. He made 83 appearances for the Lions before joining Leyton Orient in 2014. Following the O’s relegation in 2015 Lowry asked for a transfer and somewhat surprisingly found himself back in the Championship with Birmingham City. He only made two starts at St Andrews however and now plays his football in his birth place of Perth, for Perth Glory.
Johnny Ertl: Kevin Blackwell brought in Johnny Ertl on a free transfer after the Austrian had helped Crystal Palace survive relegation to league one at Sheffield Wednesday’s expense in the 2009/2010 season. Unfortunately Ertl was unable to save the Blades despite being a regular in both defence and midfield for most of the relegation season. A bad injury in March saw Ertl sidelined until December and after just a few more games at United, Ertl left to join fellow League One club Portsmouth. Ertl couldn’t stop Pompey inevitable slide into League 2 but on a personal level he enjoyed great success at Fratton Park. Ertl was made club captain and also won Player Of The Season award for his performances in the 2012/2013 season. Pompey fans still hold the Austrian in high regard and he is now spokesman of the Portsmouth Supporters Trust Board.
Lee Williamson: Williamson was blighted by injuries throughout the relegation campaign and only really started showing his worth during the 2011/2012 season when he became a pivotal figure in the Danny Wilson side that came within a penalty kick of securing promotion back to the championship. The following pre-season Williamson refused a contract extension offered to him by United and ended up at Portsmouth though he was released at the financially struggling club less than 5 months later. Blackburn snapped up Williamson in February 2012 and he has currently racked up 79 games for the Lancashire side. This season Injury has ensured that he only has 2 starts to his name.
Nick Montgomery: Now remembered as a cult hero at Bramall Lane,“Monty” went from being the fans scapegoat to club captain during his 12 years at The Lane. Now in his 4th season with Australian club Central Coast Mariners, Montgomery has once again earned the honour of club captaincy and is as much of a cult hero down under as he was at United.
Michael Doyle: Neill Collins and Micheal Doyle were often held up as an example of United’s decline. Both joined around the same time, both were relegated with United in their first season and both were part of the various teams that failed to win promotion back to the Championship. Like Collins, Doyle had a poor start to his Blades career but in his first full season at United he was made clup captain and formed a midfield partnership with Kevin McDonald that won much more battles than they lost. Doyle was always a limited player who fans were quick to get on the back of but there was never any doubt of his determination and spirit. When he left for Portsmouth in pre-season most Blades wished him well and acknowledged the job he did at United. At Pompey he seems to divide the fans just as he did here. Some praise him and say they look a better outfit with him in the team doing the “dirty work” whilst others fail to see what he adds to the team. Doyle has been a regular member of the Pompey first team this season.
Richard Cresswell: After spells with Wednesday and Leeds, Richard Cresswell was always going to find it hard to win over supporters. He was even booed by a small section of fans on his debut against Ipswich on September 29th 2009. Cresswell won around most fans in his first season though with hard working displays and a decent goal return that saw him finish as the clubs top scorer. His second season was less successful with just 5 goals as United were relegated to League One. In League One his struck up a good partnership with Ched Evans. Whilst Cresswell’s best days were behind him he did play in a part in Evans’ extraordinary season that saw him net 35 goals. The following season saw Cresswell out of the picture for the first month of the campaign due to a clause in his contract that meant United had to pay his former club Stoke City more money if he played over a certain amount of games. This situation was finally resolved when Cresswell agreed to a new contract under the heading of Player/Coach. He was unable to force his way into the United side for the majority of the season though and in March joined York City on loan before being brought back to United by new caretaker manager Chris Morgan. Cresswell was part of the United squad that failed to progress to that seasons play off final and once David Weir was installed as boss it was announced that Creswell would be leaving the club. He once again joined York, this time permanently. In November 2015 he was named as York’s caretaker manager but following the appointment of Jackie McNamara at Bootham Crescent in December he was relieved of his coaching duties.
Marcus Bent: Under Neil Warnock Marcus Bent had enjoyed a fruitful spell at Bramall Lane scoring 20 goals in 48 games. His second spell was much less successful however. Joining on loan from Birmingham City in 2011, Bent failed to score a single goal for Micky Adams’ doomed side and was sent back to his parent club long before the season had ended. United turned out to be the last English club Bent played for and after he was released from Birmingham his final year as a footballer was played out with Indonesian Super League side Mitra Kukar. Again things didn’t work out for Bent and he was released just 5 months later. This signaled the end of his career and in 2013 he entered the oil industry. In September 2015 Bent was charged with affray when he challenged police with a meat cleaver. He was also charged with possession of a Class A drug. His sentencing is to take place in February of this year.
Daniel Bogdanović: Joining United in the summer of 2010, the capture of Daniel Bogdanović was considered a bit of coup. He had ended the previous season as Barnsley’s top scorer and his signing on a free transfer looked a shrewd move. It never worked out for Bogdanović at The Lane though and he managed just 5 goals in a Blades shirt. Since leaving United he has had a nomadic existence turning out for 8 clubs in just 5 years without ever holding down a regular place anywhere. He is currently back in his home country of Malta playing for Xewkija Tigers and is currently head coach at Xewkija Tigers Football Nursery.