Sheffield - A city steeled for a promotion charge from United and Wednesday
There are just a few days to go until the new football season kicks off and with it, the hopes and dreams that this could be the year.
That goes for both Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday for this coming campaign, but aside from the opportunity to let their minds wander to what could be achieved come May, there is an added element for Owls and Blades - an expectancy.
For United, this is not a new feeling, the fact that they are now six years in the third tier of English football has their supporters continually holding the belief that this will be the last and the Championship beckons.
However continual failures may have diluted that belief somewhat, the appointment of Chris Wilder and the subsequent pre-season he has presided over as manager has meant that most fans will maintain a level of presumption that United will at least be there or thereabouts in the League One promotion shake-up.
Wilder’s signings have been astute. Rather than bringing in a load of players with experience at a higher level, or with potential to do well, the boyhood Blade has put together a squad who know the division and who know what it takes to get results in it.
Added to the fact that collectively, the squad he inherited inexplicably under-performed last season under Nigel Adkins, then there is nothing to suggest that United can’t at least be pushing for the automatic places. Then again, the fans have all been here before.
Bolton Wanderers provide the first real test of Wilder’s tenure and he wants to make a ‘positive impression’.
“Saturday doesn’t make or break our season but we certainly want to get out of the traps and gets off to a good start,” said Wilder. “We’ll be backed by thousands of our supporters going over the Pennines. It’s a new start, it’s a first impression for myself and the team and we want to make sure it’s a positive one.”
In the blue and white half of the city, expectancy is something of a new feeling ahead of a new season.
However, the heroics of last year which saw Wednesday coming so close to making it to the Premier League in Carlos carvalhal’s first season in charge, have meant that Owls fans now feel that they are legitimate candidates for promotion. They’d be right to.
While the addition of Newcastle United, Norwich City and Aston Villa make breaking into the top two a hugely difficult task, a strengthened squad, with Steven Fletcher and Almen Abdi potentially two of the best buys of the summer puts Carvalhal’s side well in the frame for at least another play-offs challenge.
Villa are first up for the Owls at Hillsborough on Sunday and Carvalhal is ready for action, with the fans’ backing.
“It will be a very tough game but it will be tough for (Aston Villa) in our stadium,” he said. “We don’t just play with 11. We will probably play with 26-27,000 on our side.
“I’m absolutely sure the fans will be with us, the energy will be positive and make our team more dynamic.
“We are ready for the competition and looking forward to the first game.”
Two Sheffield teams, two expectant sets of fans. Fingers crossed for two positive outcomes.