FORTY-TWO down and only four to go.
Sheffield United can reflect on the first eight months of what has been a long and gruelling campaign with much satisfaction.
But Danny Wilson enters today’s meeting with Leyton Orient knowing results against MK Dons, Stevenage, Exeter City and, of course, the visitors from London, could ultimately decide how their entire season is defined.
“We’re in a position whereby our destiny is in our own hands,” he said last night. “But there’s no complacency whatsoever. If there was then that would be detrimental to what we are trying to do.”
Knowing that 63 hours worth of good work could be wrecked by 360 minutes of indifferent football should be a frightening prospect for any manager.
Even one as experienced as Wilson.
But the former Northern Ireland international, who makes the 895th appearance of his coaching career against Russell Slade’s side, told yesterday’s media conference at Shirecliffe: “There’s no tension. Quite the opposite because this is an enjoyable experience and it’s one we are embracing.
“These are great times and exciting times. We wanted to be challenging and we are.”
Wilson, who guided Barnsley into the top flight 15 years ago, recently drew parallels between the group of players he tutored at Oakwell and the one he inherited following predecessor Micky Adams’ departure in May.
“If anything, though, the lads here now are more experienced,” Wilson said. “There are plenty who have played at the highest level before in their careers.”
“Orient will be dangerous, make no mistake about that,” he added last night.
“It could go one of two ways for them – either they’ll be determined to put on a show or they’ll be lacking in confidence. Obviously we hope it’s the latter but we’ve prepared for the former.”
United, attempting to return to the Championship at the first time of asking, prepare to entertain Orient second in the table and two points ahead of third-placed Sheffield Wednesday following a 5-2 triumph over Rochdale in midweek. Slade’s men, who held United to a draw at the Matchroom Stadium earlier this term, are 20th.
Wilson said: “That match at Orient was a turning point for us. We conceded a late goal and there were certain facets of our game that we just weren’t doing well enough.”