Martin Smith delivers his verdict on the contrasting fortunes of Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday
Rarely have our two clubs been so far apart.
Sheffield United, the toast of neutrals and critics for their endeavour, tactical innovation and collective success in the Premier League.
Sheffield Wednesday, branded ‘cheats’ in the country’s most influential media outlet and looking down the barrel of a 12-point deduction before the new season starts.
Both clubs have had nightmares at ownership and boardroom level in recent decades.
Wednesday the trauma of the old guard, then the Dave Allen years, the new broom of Lee Strafford, mixed fortunes under Milan Mandaric and the recent scandal of the Dejphon Chansiri era.
United can look back on the ‘colourful’ Reg Brealey, the shock of Mike McDonald and Carlo Colombotti, and the steady growth of the Kevin McCabe era before the trauma of his split with once co and now sole owner Abdullah bin Musa'ad.
Their High Court, high profile ownership battle could have de-stabilised Sheffield United at a time when they needed investment and firm leadership.
That it didn’t is largely down to one man.
The difference is on the pitch, or more accurately, in the dugout.
If Wilder and United were matched on an internet dating site they would be soulmates staring into each other’s eyes.
United have found a ‘keeper’, Wednesday are still used to swiping left.
Manager Garry Monk has no responsibility for the club’s financial and ownership difficulties and he has not yet had the time to develop the type of relationship that ex-United full-back Wilder has at Bramall Lane.
Over the years we have seen the fluctuating fortunes of Sheffield’s big two, often on opposite tides.
Wednesdayites are as fanatical and dedicated as any supporters in football with a historic sense of identity and a belief in their side that the club is currently struggling to live up to.
The momentum may shift again as it has so many times since Sheffield’s big two were a force in the ‘new’ Premier League in 1992.
With relegation and fan discontent real possibilities next season turbulent times lay ahead in S6.
United meanwhile will aim for another top ten finish and a new tilt at qualifying for European football.
Two clubs going in opposite directions?
Maybe for now but will the tide turn again?
History says it will and that Wednesday will bounce back.
But it is not inevitable.
Someone has to make it happen.