Sheffield Derby: Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder reveals respect for Sheffield Wednesday boss Steve Bruce and backs him to lead Owls to future glory
Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has backed Steve Bruce to lead Sheffield Wednesday to future success after reinforcing the respect he holds for his former boss at Bramall Lane.
Wilder, who worked briefly under Bruce when the pair were at United in the 1990s, will lead his team into battle against a Bruce side for the second time this season on Monday evening at Hillsborough.
The first, against Bruce’s Aston Villa, saw United run out 4-1 winners.
Bruce has since been sacked by Villa and recruited by Wednesday, and will experience his first Sheffield Derby on Monday having never faced the Owls during his time with the Blades.
And Wilder said: “Steve doesn’t get the promotion he has got, the career as a player that he has, by sitting back and waiting to get beat.
“Their results have shown that, and he has attacking players at the club.
“I have never been disrespectful to the Sheffield Wednesday players and squad… they have an enormous amount of talent in that group.
“Now, unfortunately, they have a manager who I am sure will harness them to future success - even though it pains me to say it!”
A slight smirk may have crossed Wilder’s face as he delivered that last line, but there can be no doubt that Monday is serious business for him and his squad, who are chasing promotion to the Premier League.
But as well as looking forward, Wilder also allowed himself to briefly look back to his second spell as a player at United when Bruce was still cutting his teeth in management.
“He was here as a player-manager, then a short period as manager. That was the first time I got to know him,” he remembered.
"I wasn’t really playing regularly, so it wasn’t a big relationship.
“But, as he has said, he has taken note of my career, and I don’t think you cannot take note of Steve’s career as a manager and what he has done.
He is a proper football man and a proper guy. He is a man who I have an enormous amount of respect for. He says it as is it is, and he has certainly galvanised a really good group of players at a powerful football club.”