Dean Saunders and Nigel Clough used to share car journeys to training during their time together at Nottingham Forest.
And the former Sheffield United striker believes that Clough’s drive will see the Bramall Lane club promoted to the Championship next season.
Saunders, who scored 22 goals in 57 games in red and white before joining Benfica in 1998, has seen his old pal Clough transform United’s fortunes since he took over in October.
United were languishing second from bottom in League One when Clough succeeded David Weir, and they have since reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and finished a place outside the play-offs.
Like Clough, Saunders inherited a club in crisis last year when he took over from Ståle Solbakken at Wolves. But unlike his old mate, he could not turn things around and he was sacked just days after their relegation was confirmed.
“I believe that Sheffield United fans will have a team to be proud of under Nigel,” Saunders said. “Of course, Sheffield United should never be in League One anyway and they were looking like a crisis club when he joined.
“From my own experience, when you come into that situation you don’t have that time in pre-season, that time to build a team.
“But I think now with Nigel, they will.
“He is a man who has spent a lot of time at clubs in his previous positions at Derby and Burton and I think Sheffield United will give him that time again. With that backing, I am sure that they will be one of the teams that will be pushing for promotion next season.
“The FA Cup run was fantastic for the fans and for the club as well. They will have made some money out of that, so the team should improve ahead of next year.”
Dean Saunders is a supporter of the StreetGames Football Pools Fives, a programme that takes football to young people in disadvantaged communities. Visit www.streetgames.org/footballpoolsfives.