The beauty is it’s never been about one man. Not Chris Wilder. Or Billy Sharp. And the same will be true of a former striker rejoining the club. Forget the fall-out from that, fleeting I’m sure.
It’s an emotional story, whatever your view, but so is the story of a season that totally eclipses it. And yet best illustrated by a pile of cold stats. Usually, they are as sterile as concrete slabs beside the action they try vainly to reflect, but in the case of Sheffield United and Wilder, this column can’t attempt to scale or get over them. They are simply monumental.
One hundred points. Savour and say slowly as the League One champions seek the century by beating Chesterfield in Sunday’s finale. 199 points; the manager’s likely haul across successive title-winning campaigns with two clubs.
One hundred and seventy one goals. The collective tally of the Blades and Northampton. Stop right there. It’s absolutely phenomenal stuff. I can’t recall a managerial sequence to match it and, for as long as we watch the game, none of us are likely to see anything to surpass it.
But when we salute the marvel of Wilder’s (and Alan Knill’s) achievement, the real wonder of what they have inspired is that it has been a genuine unbroken, relentless team effort. “Attractive football ...great team spirit ...wouldn’t say any great superstars”: A perfect summing up from Blades goal legend Keith Edwards.
Actually, United have had stars – all over the pitch. It’s about attitude. Sharp was always going to be the highest profile player, with or without his 29 goals, but, as he’s admitted, the captaincy has cast out personal side issues, like hating to be substituted, and focused him on team responsibility. “My player of the season,” says Keith all the same - for leading from the front and consistently scoring alongside a range of different partners.
Not that Billy can’t afford to be a bit selfish, as all top marksmen have to be. Especially now with the job done and a chance to become only the second post-war United player, alongside Edwards (who did it twice), to hit 30 league goals in a season. (“In some respects I hope he does – I can always get the better of him as I tell him I wasn’t on penalties!”)
It’s a high bar for any new striker, even one who hit 35 goals (29 league) in his last, fatefully truncated, season at Bramall Lane. No such stand-out stars this time round. And, for all the argument, there should be no distraction from Ched Evans’ return. Not like the last aborted attempt, which I argued against in very different circumstances.
Only issue for me now; can Evans still do it? Wilder reckons he can. Look back up this column and tell me a reason to distrust that judgement.