Sheffield United: Chris Wilder's message to The Blades fans as Bramall Lane gears-up for Premier League return
Chris Wilder has issued a passionate rallying cry to Sheffield United's supporters, insisting they can help his team establish themselves in the Premier League.
Speaking ahead of Sunday's meeting with Crystal Palace - the first time Bramall Lane has hosted a top-flight fixture for 12 years - Wilder reminded the United fans how their backing proved crucial during the closing stages of last season's promotion winning campaign.
Acknowledging the scale of the challenge his players face as they attempt to plot a course towards survival, the United manager said: "We're backed by incredible supporters, who have driven us on home and away, over the past three years. We'll need them more than ever now, because there will be tough times and we're going on to another level. But I think they recognise that, they know what we're up against."
Although Wilder accepts his plea will be regarded as clichéd by some, he has spoken at length about how the relationship between United's squad and its followers has helped transform the club's fortunes. Languishing in League One when the 51-year-old was appointed in May 2016, they are now preparing for games against some of the biggest names in world football.
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Although Palace do not fall into that bracket, the meeting with Roy Hodgson's side is hugely significant for United given the importance Wilder has placed upon accumulating points at home. They began the campaign by drawing 1-1 with AFC Bournemouth last weekend, after Billy Sharp’s late equaliser cancelled-out Chris Mepham’s opener for the hosts.
"We've got to be strong everywhere but especially in our own backyard," Wilder said. "I know everyone says this, but we want to make coming to our place a horrible experience - in the right way of course - for opponents. We're welcoming and we do things the right way. But when the game has finished, we don't want them going home thinking what a great day they've just had and how much they enjoyed it."