Another famous Irish centre-half, Richard Dunne, is well aware of the pitfalls facing a promoted side. “When we came up with QPR, we had a lot of Premier League players and experienced players but we got off to a bad start and it killed us,” he says.
“We just couldn’t recover. If Sheffield United start the season slowly or poorly it will be very difficult to recover, and for all the enthusiasm that you have in pre-season, for all the beliefs and hopes and dreams you have, if it doesn’t go well at the start it’s very hard.
For John Egan and Sheffield United it’s about not being taken by surprise by how quick and unforgiving the Premier League is. You have to start the season quickly or it can quickly turn into a nightmare.
The reason the step-up can be so difficult is quite simple, according to Dunne. “It’s just the best players in the world. The Championship is quick and it’s very difficult, there are lots of games and energy and pressure. But you can make mistakes and get away with it.
“In the Premier League you don’t even think you’ve made a mistake but you’ve made a mistake. Players move for 80 and 100 million because they’re the best players in the world, not because it’s a stupid economy.
“There isn’t any time for learning in the Premier League. You have to be ready from day one and that’s the difficulty. Aston Villa will have John Terry there telling them what to expect but it’s very tough without that experience.”