SHEFFIELD United’s new manager Danny Wilson has vowed to win over the Blades fans who protested against his controversial appointment today at Bramall Lane.
Wilson, aged 51, a former player and manager at city rivals Sheffield Wednesday, was unveiled as the Blades’ fourth boss in nine months amid chants of “We hate Wilson” and “You don’t know what you’re doing” by a protest group of around 150-strong, who had gathered in the club car park.
Blades Plc chairman Kevin McCabe later met with some of the protesters in a bid to convince them Wilson was the right man to lead the club back to the npower Championship following relegation.
McCabe has given Wilson a three-year contract and has appointed club skipper Chris Morgan as player-coach, while an assistant manager is expected to be named in the next few days.
VIDEO: Watch the press conference in full - click on the story link below.
SEE THE STAR TOMORROW FOR OUR FULL REPORT, REACTION AND INTERVIEW WITH BLADES NEW MANAGER DANNY WILSON.
Wilson said: “I’m not foolish enough to think it’s going to be anything other then very difficult to come across the divide, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a massive privilege to come to a club of this size with its tradition and the support of Kevin and the directors.
“It’s not going to be easy. We have to play a certain brand of football and win games to win the fans over - but you have to do that anywhere.
“It will be difficult. We understand that, but every manager is in a difficult position. We always are and always will be, while some [jobs] are more difficult than others.
“But I promise you we’ll work very, very hard for this football club. I’m very determined and I think eventually we’ll win people over.”
Wilson, born in Wigan, made 24 appearances for Northern Ireland as a player and counts Brighton, Luton, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley among his former clubs.
He was installed as Barnsley’s player-manager in 1994 and guided the Tykes to the top flight three years later for the first time in the club’s history.
He also won promotion with Hartlepool, but MK Dons were relegated while he was in charge and he left Swindon deep in the mire when he quit as boss there in March this year.
Wilson has also been sacked as Bristol City manager and was unable to halt Sheffield Wednesday’s slide towards the Premier League trapdoor before suffering the same fate at Hillsborough in 2000.
It was during his three years as a tough-tackling midfielder for Wednesday that Wilson became unpopular with rival Blades fans and his two-year spell in charge of the Owls only served to cement such ill-feeling.
But 11 years on Wilson had clearly not expected the levels of protest at Bramall Lane today.
He added: “Does it surprise me? Yes, it does in a way, but it’s possibly understandable.
“There’s a great tradition and great rivalry here and I know as well as anybody having lived in the area for 25 years, so I know what the clubs mean to people of Sheffield.”
McCabe, who sacked previous manager Micky Adams just over a fortnight ago - Kevin Blackwell was shown the door in August and Gary Speed departed to become Wales coach in December - considered “about a dozen candidates” but admitted he has long been an admirer of Wilson.
McCabe said: “I expect Danny Wilson to be with us for a very long period of time. Put the controversy to one side, that will die away at a successful club and that’s all that Sheffield United fans crave, including myself, the guy who’s got to make decisions.”