Aston Villa and Sheffield United were both promoted to the Premier League last season but they have enjoyed differing campaigns so far.
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has taken inspiration from Sheffield United counterpart Chris Wilder by putting together a tight-knit squad reliant on quality over quantity, according to the Birmingham Mail.
With three months of the Premier League season remaining, newly-promoted Sheffield United are fifth, ahead of Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal, with the prospect of European football at Bramall Lane for the very first time looking like a realistic possibility.
Nine members of Wilder’s squad have started more than 20 league games so far this season too, with the former Oxford and Northampton boss preferring to make minor tweaks to his starting XI rather than regular, wholesale changes.
This is an approach Smith admires, the Birmingham Mail reports, with the Aston Villa boss looking to replicate Wilder’s approach in the Midlands.
Villa were promoted alongside Sheffield United in May but comfortably outspent the Steel City side during the off-season, investing over £100 million in new players.
But Smith has also managed to get a number of fringe players off the books, finding new homes for the likes of James Chester, Albert Adomah, Jonathan Kodjia and Lovre Kalinic in recent months.
And the benefits of this approach are clear. While reducing the number of options at Smith’s disposal, the dressing room morale room certainly wouldn’t be helped by the presence of unhappy players complaining publicly about their lack of action.