ASK Football League expert Steve Claridge about the decline of the two Sheffield clubs in recent years and it boils down to two things.
“They have not been run right or appointed the right people; it is as simple as that,” said the BBC pundit. “You could have a £100m to spend but if you appoint the wrong manager, they will waste it. If you appoint the right manager and give him £10m, then he is likely to use the transfer market better. We have seen that with the clubs who have gone into the Premier League this season.
“Clubs will stand or fall by the quality of the manager they appoint. Everything else is peripheral. If the manager is poor and results are poor then it affects the whole club. You will be fine if you employ the right person. As long as you have got a budget, it gives you an opportunity and you should be more competitive.”
Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday head into the derby in contrasting form. The Blades, second in the division, have won 11 out of their last 13 league outings while the Owls have lost four on the spin and are five points behind their rivals, having played two more games.
Claridge said: “They are both round about where they should be. There are probably four clubs in League One who have budgets which are outstanding compared to everybody else and it is no coincidence those are the top four sides in the league.
“I think Sheffield Wednesday need to win it more because Sheffield United have got the games in hand but I don’t see a lot between the two sides and a draw wouldn’t surprise me. It wouldn’t be the worst result for either side. They will not want to lose this one.
“I think it will open up and be entertaining. Both teams know a win would make a huge difference going forwards.
“As an outsider looking in, I think it is important you get clubs of that size and ilk out of that division. Both Sheffield clubs have Premier League potential; there is no doubt about that.”
Ex-Portsmouth and Leicester City striker Claridge believes the form book ‘goes out of the window’ in derby matches.
“This is an isolated game,” said the former Leicester City and Portsmouth striker. “It is these matches you go into football for. They get the heart rate going and it is what football is all about.
“Derbies are not about playing fantastically well. It is about letting the fans know you get it and you do that by going out there and giving a 100 per cent. If you do that, the fans will not give you grief. They expect you to give everything. They want you to get it. Your playing for them in that game against the enemy.”
Claridge has also defended under-pressure Wednesday boss Gary Megson over their long ball style of football, saying: “Supporters must remember that the grass isn’t always greener and if somebody else comes in, they might not be sat where they are in the league.
“You can’t have it all ways.”