Chris Wilder accepts Michael Brown, the former Sheffield United midfielder, “deserves” a warm reception from the home crowd when he returns to Bramall Lane with Port Vale today.
Brown made 174 appearances for the South Yorkshire club, reaching a Championship play-off final and last four of both major domestic cups, before joining Tottenham Hotspur in 2004.
Although Wilder has urged his team to show the visitors no mercy when the game kicks-off - “We’ve got to leave it all out there on the pitch” - he said: “He (Brown) was part of Neil Warnock’s period where we had outstanding result here and he scored some fabulous goals.
“I am sure Michael will get a good reaction and he deserves because he was an outstanding player here.”
Although Brown is unlikely to start this afternoon’s League One fixture after joining Bruno Ribeiro’s coaching staff in June, Wilder’s stance contrasts starkly with the one Nigel Clough adopted following a game between the two clubs 19 months ago. Then, Wilder’s predecessor was privately angered to hear the 39-year-old’s name being sung by United supporters following his role in Chris Basham’s dismissal at Vale Park earlier that term.
By a twist of fate, Basham is also suspended for today’s game but centre-forward Caolan Lavery is fit again following injury.
“Port Vale are a footballing side, similar to Peterborough, and will open the game up, play from the back,” Wilder, whose opposite number Ribeiro is also an ex-United player, said. “They have a lot of good players in the team, but also the ability to grind (a result) out. We have had some decent home results recently, and we need to keep that home run going. We have won the last three at Bramall Lane, and would love to make it four.
“They are there on merit in the table, but we have a chance to go above them on Saturday.”
United slipped to eighth when last weekend’s meeting with Walsall was postponed due to international call-ups. Vale are fourth but have played a game more than the hosts.
“The lads had the weekend off,” Wilder said. “So it was good for a few of them who don’t live in the city to go back to their families and clear their heads. But they were back in Monday, a working week, and are looking forward to getting back out there again.”