NEILL Collins has described Sheffield United’s Danny Wilson as “one of the best managers I’ve ever played for” after insisting it is impossible to under-estimate his achievements at Bramall Lane, writes James Shield.
Collins, a member of the team beaten in last season’s League One play-off final, acknowledged the loss of key players such as Lee Williamson, Stephen Quinn and Matthew Lowton following May’s defeat by Huddersfield Town could have cast a shadow over performances this term.
Instead, after rebuilding his squad with a combination of home-grown talent and shrewd investments in the transfer market, Wilson’s side enter today’s fixture against MK Dons second in the table and unbeaten in six games.
Collins, the former Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sunderland and Leeds centre-half, told The Star: “He is by far one of the best (managers) that I’ve ever worked for.
“The same goes for his backroom staff like (assistant) Frank (Barlow) and (coach) Morgs (Chris Morgan). They’ve all done a really good job and been absolutely different class.
“The manager has done a fantastic job of doing things slightly differently. There was a lot of change over the summer but he’s kept us on an even keel.”
Asked whether Wilson, appointed following United’s relegation from the Championship in 2011, receives the recognition he deserves, Collins replied: “Probably not to be honest. The manager has to take huge credit.
“He’s very level-headed and down-to-earth which are among the reasons why we’ve stayed towards the top of the table.”
United, one point behind leaders Doncaster Rovers, entertain the visitors from stadium:mk searching for their sixth successive clean sheet.
Collins said: “It’s always pleasing because it means that, whatever else happens, you’ll be picking-up points.
“But I’m always wary because remember being at Wolves when Wayne Hennessy went on loan to Stockport, kept nine in a row and then not long after conceded seven.
“Football has a way of biting you on the backside if you let down your guard.”
“We’re doing well defensively though because we’ve had good consistency and everyone helps out,” Collins added. “Macca (Tony McMahon) has been there pretty much all season, Harry and myself have got a good partnership and then Danny Higginbotham has come in with his experience.
“I also know Matty (Hill) from Wolves and then you’ve got someone like Michael Doyle in midfield who is a defender’s dream because he protects you and is so good at picking up the scraps.”
With only seven points separating the division’s top seven teams, 12th placed Dons harbour ambitions of forcing themselves back into the mix after beating Rovers 3-0 on Tuesday evening.
Collins said: “Genuinely, I don’t take much notice of the table. Genuinely, we are just focusing on ourselves.
“Nobody is running away with it at the moment but it’s tougher in a way this year because the teams down the bottom are better. Last year, although you didn’t say so at the time, there were games you knew you would win but that’s not the case now.”