Paul Peschisolido is always happy to talk about Sheffield United.
But the former Canada international finds their current predicament just too painful to bear.
“It upsets me to see a club like that in League One for so long,” he admitted last night. “Honestly, it really does.
“First of all, it shouldn’t be in that division full stop. But to spend so long there, well, it makes things even worse.”
Peschisolido, who made over 100 appearances during two spells with United, still keeps a close eye on events at Bramall Lane. So how does Chris Wilder, who seven days ago became the latest manager tasked with leading them to promotion, achieve that objective? Peschisolido, a member of the squad which reached the last four of both major cup competitions and a Championship play-off final under Neil Warnock, believes he knows how.
“If you can assemble a group that’s ready to give everything to win then, everything else considered, you won’t go far wrong. Teams used to fear coming to our place because they knew, if they were going to beat us, they were going to have to work damn hard. We just didn’t give up, no matter what.
“Neil is a great guy but, in the dug-out, he was ready to battle, scrap and probably even bite if it meant he was going to win a game of football. And he expected the same type of attitude from his players too. That’s the mentality you need and we were together in everything that we did.”
Wilder, who turned professional with United in 1986, has outlined plans to adopt a similarly aggressive approach after his predecessor Nigel Adkins’ more scientific methods failed to strike a chord.
Confessing he thought the 51-year-old would prove a success - “His CV seemed exactly right” - Peschisolido continued: “Every club has got its own identity. United fans don’t ask for much, they just want to see their teams put everything on the line and they’ll back them to the hilt if they do that. They want to see winning football if you like and I think they should go back to their roots. That’s where Neil took them, that’s where he took us.”
“Opponents used to hate coming to Bramall Lane back then,” Peschisolido added. “Because they knew, no matter what type of form we were in, there was going to be no such thing as an easy ride. You could just sense it. There wasn’t one incident as such which summed it up but you just knew that’s what they were thinking in the tunnel before we all came out.
“If we were 2-0 down, you’d hear them saying things like ‘don’t give them a goal back’ because they knew we had that spirit to try and win 3-2. And, quite often, we did.”
United were 2-0 down and trailing 3-1 on aggregate when, during the 2003 Championship play-off semi-final against Nottingham Forest, Peschisolido scored one of his most important and memorable goals.
“That game summed that group of lads up better than anything,” he said. “We ended-up winning 5-4 over the two legs because we never threw in the towel. Credit to Neil and also Blacky (assistant manager Kevin Blackwell) because they brought in lads who had often been released by other clubs or pretty much written-off. But they spotted something in all of us, that spirit, that desire, and realised what we could all do. We all had ability of course but also the right attitude. Those were memorable times and I really hope there are some more memorable ones ahead.”
*Peschisolido is set to appear in Sunday’s match between a Blades Legends XI and the Fulham All-Stars at Bramall Lane (kick-off 1pm). Tickets, priced £7 adults and £3 concessions, are available from the box office, online at www.sufc.talent-sport.co.uk or by telephoning 0114 253 7200. Brian Deane, Tony Agana, Michael Brown, Carl Asaba and Leigh Bromby are also taking part, alongside boxer Joe Calzaghe and comedian Jack Whitehall.