High-expectations, first team football and a raucous, passionate, crowd.
Three reasons why Joe Riley last night insisted joining Sheffield United makes perfect sporting sense.
“I wanted to come out to continue my development,” he said. “To get more used to proper mens’ football if you like. And, to be able to do that at a club like Sheffield United, of this size and stature, well, it just ticks every single box.”
Riley, aged 20, is scheduled to spend the rest of the season on loan with Chris Wilder’s squad after leaving Manchester United on loan. A regular performer for Old Trafford’s under-23 side, he started his career as a midfielder before being handed more defensive responsibilities earlier this term. It is that combination of ability and versatility which persuaded Wilder make his play for the youngster around the turn of the year. Having made two appearances for Manchester United at senior level, the League One leaders will have no qualms pitching Riley into the thick of a promotion battle when Gillingham visit Bramall Lane this weekend.
“I’ve grown-up at a club where the pressure is always on,” Riley continued. “So that’s something I’m used too. It’s the same here, Sheffield United are expected to win matches, but that doesn’t bother me because, surely, that’s what you should always be looking to do? The lads here have made a really good start.”
Riley made his Manchester United debut during an FA Cup victory at Shrewsbury Town 11 months ago. Three days later, having impressed Louis van Gaal as a second-half substitute, he started the Europa League tie against Midtjylland. Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata also featured in that game.
Although a slight hamstring complaint delayed his arrival in South Yorkshire, Riley put his time in the treatment room to good use.
“I’ve watched some of the games and the lads play some great stuff,” he said. “The manager (Wilder) has told me what he expects and that’s people who give everything for the club. Who leave it all out on the pitch so that’s something I’ll do.”