Sheffield United man recalls Neil Warnock spell and secrets of Huddersfield Town success
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Jack Lester has provided a personal insight into the challenge Sheffield United will face in the form of their former manager Neil Warnock when they travel to Huddersfield Town on Thursday evening.
Warnock, who led United to the Premier League in 2005/06, has guided the Terriers to the brink of Championship safety after arriving when they looked dead and buried and can complete the great escape with a single point in either of their last two games.
Defeat at home to United would leave everything riding on the final-day showdown between Town, in 21st, and Reading, who occupy the final relegation place. United, of course, are already promoted and although they will approach their final two games with the utmost professionalism, Warnock will hope for a drop-off in performance levels to boost his own side’s chances.
There will be plenty of experience of Warnock’s methods in the Blades dugout, with both Lester and Stuart McCall having played under him during his time at Bramall Lane. Goalkeeping coach Matt Duke was also at United during the same time as Warnock, while striker Billy Sharp’s first spell at his boyhood club ended when Warnock sold him to Scunthorpe United.
“I’ve bumped into him a couple of times this season, he's been doing games and the media side,” Lester said of Warnock. “He's extremely experienced and I enjoyed playing under him, he had some good times here and so did I.
“He'll give clear instructions to them and let them know exactly what he expects, and it'll be an extremely competitive game. He makes players feel good and confident about the game, and keeps things very simple.
“But there’s an art to that, not anyone can do it. You've got to break down the whole thing into bite-sized bits that gel. He's had success in this division time and time again, and I'm not surprised they have pulled away.”
Sheffield-born Lester, now United’s first-team coach with a specific remit to work with the club’s forwards, has fond memories of his time as a player at Bramall Lane.
“It was competitive and we were reasonably successful,” he said. “In my full season I scored a few goals, which was nice, but we just missed out on the play-offs, which wasn’t as nice. But I enjoyed coming to work.
“There was a bit of needle and a lot of energy and the club was welcoming then. There’s a lot of the same people still working here and it still has that welcoming feel.
“That's something that's special about the club, it's welcoming to players and it's important we keep that groundedness about us. It's what keeps it special for me.”