There will be no need for a crash course in its history or lessons about what makes the supporters tick.
Because, having followed and then played for Sheffield United, Chris Wilder already ‘gets’ the League One club.
“Chris knows the culture, he knows the background and he knows what the people there want to see,” Brian Deane, a former team mate of the new manager, explained last night. “And that puts him at a distinct advantage straight away. If there was going to be a change then, with all due respect to everyone concerned, bringing him in makes sense. Basically, Chris is just a damn good fit.”
Deane was speaking as he prepares to resurrect his partnership with Tony Agana during Sunday’s charity match at Bramall Lane. The fixture, which pits a Blades Legends XI against the Fulham All-Stars, takes place less than three weeks after the 26th anniversary of United’s promotion to the top-flight following a 5-2 thrashing of Leicester City at Filbert Street.
Deane, who appeared alongside Agana and Wilder in Dave Bassett’s squad, now performs an ambassadorial role for the club and helps to coach its academy teams.
“Every club is different,” he said. “Maybe if we were on the south coast things might be different but here, the fans want to see high energy, high intensity football. That’s what the history, certainly in the modern era, is all about. Chris understands that straight from the off. He understands it because, after all, he was a part of it himself. And going forward that should be a good thing.”
Wilder, aged 48, was unveiled as Nigel Adkins replacement last week after impressing with his exploits at Northampton Town last term. Deane, who also represented the likes of England, Benfica and Leeds before a spell in charge of Norwegian outfit Sarpsborg 08, expects him to recruit wisely this summer. Especially after hearing Kevin McCabe, United’s co-owner, bemoan his predecessor’s track record in the transfer market.
“I’ve heard Chris talk about getting people to represent this club properly,” Deane continued. “To take ownership of its results and performances. Maybe at some other clubs, that appreciation of what has gone on before isn’t so important. But Sheffield United isn’t just ‘any other’ football club. And here it definitely is.”
“I’m not talking about people who are going to kiss the badge on their shirt if they score a goal,” he added. “Because, in lots of cases, that doesn’t really mean anything at all. What I’m talking about, and what I know Chris is talking about, is people who have the qualities the fans here want to see. And that’s heart, fight and desire. Never ever giving-up no matter what the situation is.”
*Tickets for Sunday’s match, which kicks-off at 1pm, are available from United’s box office or online at www.sufc.talent-sport.co.uk priced £7 adults and £3 concessions. Paul Peschisolido, Chris Morgan, Jon Harley, Joe Calzaghe, Jack Whitehall and Tom Parker from The Wanted are among those scheduled to appear. Proceeds will be donated to the Steelphalt Academy, the Sheffield United Former Players Association, Hallam FM’s Cash for Kids and the Fulham Foundation.