Blades: Sheffield United boss Wilson positive about future at Lane

United debut: Danny Wilson is looking forward to the Oldham clash.                       Picture: Steve Parkin.
United debut: Danny Wilson is looking forward to the Oldham clash. Picture: Steve Parkin.
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IT is a journey which will take nine long months, see them visit some of English football’s bleakest outposts and fittingly starts at a ground nicknamed Ice Station Zebra.

But Danny Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, can not wait for this afternoon’s first match of the League One season at Boundary Park.

“I’m ready to go and I’m looking forward to it just like the rest of the lads. It seems a long while ago when we walked through the door and kicked our first ball in anger so it will be great to get started.”

Today’s game against Oldham Athletic will be the first time Wilson has taken charge of United in a competitive fixture since being appointed following last season’s relegation from the Championship.

Tasked with restoring the South Yorkshire club’s tarnished reputation, the former Northern Ireland international faces a massive job.

In both senses of the word.

Exploiting the vast reserves of home-grown talent academy director John Pemberton has unearthed at Shirecliffe and ridding United of their ‘route one’ image were among the challenges Wilson accepted 10 weeks ago.

But delivering promotion, preferably at the first attempt, is undoubtedly the most important item on his ‘to do’ list.

“This division is going to be tough,” said Wilson. “It’s going to be a long haul but the good thing is we are capable.”

Wilson appears at ease with the weight of expectation being placed upon his shoulders; embracing rather than shying away from the pressures of life at Bramall Lane.

But, in order to succeed, he must overcome a number of obstacles both on and off the pitch.

With television revenues set to plummet, Wilson must completely re-structure a squad on a fraction of the money enjoyed by the vast majority of his most recent predecessors.

Nevertheless, speaking before applying the finishing touches to United’s preparations yesterday, he said: “There is scope to bring people in but at a level.

“Yes, we can do business but, unless some go out, it’s going to be at a level.

“Four or five is not an option. There is a danger things might change right before the end of the window but that’s the game. “You get on with it.

“And, I’d like to think, that if something does happen we’ve got our fingers on the pulse and will be ready to act.”

The future of midfielders Nick Montgomery and Stephen Quinn has been the subject of much debate with Leeds, despite privately down playing talk of a move for either, still being linked with the United duo.

“If you want to know about that then you’d better ask whoever is supposed to be buying them,” added Wilson. “From my point of view, I want them to be a part of my team.

“They’ll both be involved against Oldham.”

Together with assistant Frank Barlow, Wilson has made considerable progress towards achieving one of his aims over the summer months with United demonstrating a respect for possession seldom witnessed in S2 of late.

But a fixture schedule which saw them pit their wits against the likes of Doncaster Rovers, Hibernians and Blackpool, also revealed areas where improvements are still required.

Despite enjoying long periods of possession in all six of their warm-up games, Wilson’s charges were profligate in front of goal.

Chris Porter should prove a valuable acquisition when he sheds the ring rust accumulated during a frustrating two year stint at Derby County.

But with Jordan Slew and Danny Philliskirk brimming with potential rather than proven ability, Wilson remains keen to draft-in more attacking reinforcements.

“We’ve got some good options up there and we want to score goals,” he said. “We’re going to try and be positive but everyone has to contribute.

“You can never be gung-ho or disrespectful.

“But the boys have been given our encouragement to get forward.”