Chris Wilder outlines his Sander Berge wish in message to fans ahead of Burnley man's Sheffield United return

Wilder also signed Sander Berge: Simon Bellis/SportimageWilder also signed Sander Berge: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Wilder also signed Sander Berge: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Sander Berge preparing for first Sheffield United return since summer move to Burnley

Chris Wilder has implored Sheffield United fans to give Sander Berge a warm reception upon his return to Bramall Lane with Burnley this weekend - until kick-off, at least. The Norwegian midfielder left Bramall Lane in the summer for the Clarets after entering the final year of his Blades contract, with United taking the decision not to risk him leaving on a free.

Berge, United’s previous record signing from Genk, was a big part of United’s promotion back to the Premier League last season and has been a key man for Burnley, despite their struggles. Vincent Kompany’s side travel to Bramall Lane second bottom of the table, a place and four points above the Blades.

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It was Wilder who signed Berge in the January of the Blades’ first season back in the Premier League and the United chief admitted: "I've got to say I didn't see at times the criticisms levelled at him by certain supporters. He came in a fabulous period for us.

"We tried to get him at the start of that season, we managed to get him in and he had a big end of the season, played as a six and as an eight and as one of two sixes. I know there's talk they [Paul Heckingbottom and his coaching staff] made him into an eight, they didn't. He was a really good all-round midfield player. I remember him scoring against Tottenham here as a high eight.

"He's a good player. The situation last summer was disappointing and something from our point of view we can all learn from in terms of allowing that situation to happen. I understood why the club had to capitalise and cash in. It's not a great situation when players are allowed to run their contracts down. I didn't like it. Hopefully that won't happen going forward.”

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A popular figure in the Bramall Lane changing room, Berge had probably his best season at United in their promotion campaign as his size and strength, plus his underappreciated speed, made him a difficult proposition for second-tier defenders to deal with. “He’s a talented boy,” Wilder added. “When he was playing in the Championship, at full tilt, I enjoyed the way he drove past players and his passing.

"Do I want him to play well on Saturday? No. Do I want him to get a result on Saturday? No. I hope he gets a Sheff United welcome, a little clap at the start maybe - although I'm not sure everybody will see it that way - and then it's game on. Us against them, our football club against their football club.

“We have to make it as difficult as possible for him and their players on the pitch and I'm sure that feel, that sweet-spot of our support between positive and not hostile but just edging towards that uncomfortable feeling we try to make other teams feel.

"The last home game [the late 2-2 draw with Chelsea] was a real positive result for us. That's got to be the feel but it's got to be set off by the attitude and the approach of the players."

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