CHRIS Wilder wants to help his former club Sheffield United secure promotion this season - by knocking them out of the FA Cup.
United face their namesakes from Oxford at the Kassam Stadium today having heard manager Danny Wilson claim that reaching the later stages of the competition would enhance rather than hinder their Championship credentials.
But Wilder, who made over 100 appearances for the visitors before joining Rotherham in 1992, told The Star: “Everyone knows my connections and feelings for United so of course I hope they go up.
“And the way I want to do that is by leaving them with a clear run at League One and knowing they can go home with nothing to concentrate on but getting a top two place. No distractions whatsoever.
“We, of course, will be perfectly capable of balancing a good cup run with hopefully doing well in League Two!
“Seriously, though, although I grew up a United supporter and I still follow their results now, no one should doubt my commitment to trying to make sure we are the ones who go through.”
United beat Oxford 3-0 in the first round last season, six months before losing the play-off final to Huddersfield Town. Wilder, who admitted he was “hurt” by his team’s performance, added: “United are going to be the favourites because they are a division higher than us but this time, if they do win, I want them to get on the bus knowing they’ve been in a real game.
“If they do win I want them to have to go over us and through us to do it.
“We had a few lads out last time but we didn’t do ourselves justice and I’ve made it plain that can’t be the case again. Whatever happens, they’re going to have to work for it much harder than last time because I know my lads want to put things right in that respect.”
Wilson, who is expected to hand Jamie Murphy his United debut after the winger’s transfer from Motherwell was completed on Thursday, warned last night that Oxford will still be smarting from their defeat at Bramall Lane.
But he said: “Nobody should doubt that we are serious about this tie. Like Oxford, the league is more of a priority for us than the cup but we still want to go through.
“Not least because a positive result helps to build momentum. Oxford have got that at the moment and, because of Chris’ determination, we know it’s going to be even tougher.”