Strengthening the bond between Sheffield United’s players and supporters has, off the pitch at least, been Chris Wilder’s greatest achievement since taking charge at Bramall Lane.
So, speaking ahead of this afternoon’s top of the table clash with Scunthorpe, it comes as no surprise to learn he wants to exploit that link throughout the remainder of the League One campaign.
With over 25,000 supporters expected to watch United lock horns with Graham Alexander’s side, including a sizeable away following from north Lincolnshire, Wilder admitted: “It’s a big game for League One, in any division, where top plays second, it’s going to get hype and coverage.
“We are playing consistently well and one of the things I wanted to happen is to make sure, when we play at home, we have everyone on our side and make it - without crossing the line - uncomfortable for the opposition.
“I want our supporters to make it as uncomfortable for the opposition as we have to put up with week-in, week-out, when we go away from home. Get behind your club, the team, it’s a really important period for us. The games coming up, especially at home, are outstanding games of football.”
United remained five points clear of second-placed Scunthorpe when they drew 0-0 with Bristol Rovers in midweek. But they have played a game more than today’s visitors while Bolton Wanderers, who are two further adrift in third, boast two matches in hand on Wilder’s team. They travel to South Yorkshire next weekend.
“We have put ourselves in a fantastic position, the players have been different class with the pressure we have played under all season,” Wilder continued. “I am delighted with the position we are in, points-wise, position-wise, the way the players are mentally, their confidence going into games, and most important, the togetherness of the football club.”
Wilder, who will have a near fully fit squad at his disposal, added: “I want to make sure it’s a difficult place to come and play, hostile and not nice, loud and aggressive in the right way towards the opposition, without stepping over that line. The supporters recognise they have an unbelievable chance of driving the club forward during our seven home games.”