Blades fans, steel yourselves. You won’t like this but it needs to be said - Sheffield United fans should cheer on Wednesday in the play-offs.
Don’t curse, laugh, mumble, groan, screw up the paper or click back to e-bay.
Bear with it. I’m not calling for a fantasy black-and-white 1950s sportsman-like utopia where we all wish each other the very best, touch the peak of our caps and cycle to work as the factory hooter goes off, compelling though that may be.
No, we’re talking about naked Sheffield United self-interest and here are five reasons why:
1. If Wednesday go up it puts pressure on the Bramall Lane board to invest in United so they can get even.
2. United are champions and Wednesday can’t be so you’re one up there.
3. It’s a step nearer having two Sheffield teams in the Premier League – it might not be the step you would have chosen - but it’s a step in that direction.
4. You don’t really want to play them next season do you? Who needs the nerves, the anxiety, the wind-ups at work - not that they will totally disappear obviously but save it until it matters more, in the Premier League.
5. It’s good for the city of Sheffield – that sounds a bit like someone’s gran talking but it’s true.
If Wednesday beat Huddersfield over two legs and then go on to triumph at Wembley, Blades should take the crowing and the mickey-taking, ignore the ‘We are Premier League’ chants and play the longer game.
United won League One as champions with 100 points and games to spare, no team could do more than that. They can’t make up all the lost ground of the last ten years in one season.
Sheffield needs two teams in the Premier League and one of them probably has to get there first.
There will be Owls and Blades full of scorn who don’t give a damn what happens to the other lot, in fact they’d rather they went out of business than do well. Don’t be so small-minded.
Wednesday and United in the Premier League makes Sheffield a world-class football city and that’s good for both of them and everyone else.
So smile Unitedites, remember your 100 points and the champions’ parade through the city last week, cheer on Wednesday and suck it up if they win.
It’s all part of the Sheffield master-plan . . .