Sheffield United: Chris Wilder gives his thoughts on '˜Big Time Charlies' and the ties that bind Bramall Lane and Millwall
Nearly one hundred and fifty miles separate Sheffield United and Millwall but, in terms of their culture, the two clubs have more in common than it seems.
Both are managed by former players, both enjoy giving the finger to authority and both, Chris WilderÂ admitted before his side's visit to The Den, are unashamedly down to earth.
"If you give it the big 'un walking about as a Millwall player, you'll easily get told," he said. "There won't beÂ any big time charlies there I'm guessing and there certainly aren't any here."
Why Wilder has respect for The Lions:
Despite their predicament towards the foot of the table, Wilder is an admirer of Millwall's attitude andÂ approach. Indeed, it is a measure of the 51-year-old's respect that he has tried to sign at least one of theirÂ players, centre-half Byron Webster, since taking charge of United three seasons ago.
Another, Lee Gregory, was also thought to have been the subject of a tentative enquiry during Wilder's first 12 months at the helm. The centre-forward, who progressed through United's youth system, expressed an interest in returning to his former club but Millwall's asking price proved prohibitive at that time.
"I've always said you've got to take into consideration who you are managing," Wilder replied, explainingÂ the challenges he and Neil Harris have tackled since accepting their present jobs. "You've got to look atÂ what the team's history is about and what their style is about. I think we play in a way that represents ourÂ fans and they do as well."
Ryan Leonard's likely presence in Harris' starting eleven - the midfielder is on loan from United - providesÂ another fascinating sub-plot to Saturday'sÂ game. Wilder spent the best part of 12 months prising Leonard away from Southend but, only 17 appearances later, was persuaded to sacrifice him during a reshuffle of United's midfield.
No complaints about Leonard:
Despite extolling the virtues of new signings Oliver Norwood and Martin Cranie, Wilder insists his decision did not reflect a lack of trust in Leonard's talents.
"I've got no complaints about Ryan whatsoever," he said. "As a professional or as a bloke."
Whereas United's recent results have allowed Wilder to select a settled starting eleven, Harris has not beenÂ afforded the same luxury. Millwall, 22nd in the table, have selected five different pairings at centre-half andÂ never played the same right back for more than two consecutive games as Harris attempts to spark themÂ back into life following last term's eighth placed finish.
"You can talk about styles but they've got some really good players," Wilder said. "You don't get into theÂ position they did last year without having those. There's a structure, both clubs have got that, but someÂ talented players too. The same as here."