Sheffield United: Mutual respect should make for a fascinating game with Burnley

Talk to Chris Wilder about management and two names always crop up.

Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 1:44 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 11:01 pm
Burnley manager Sean Dyche: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho, who he referenced before last weekend's draw with West Ham, all command his respect. Sir Alex Ferguson, particularly when off-the-pitch issues became a distraction at Oxford, has frequently been a source of encouragement and advice.

But Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche, whose Burnley team visit Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon, are referenced most frequently whenever Wilder discusses his profession. Because of the journeys they have taken into the Premier League and, perhaps most importantly, the manner in which both have established their clubs in a competition dominated by financial behemoths.

Wilder pitted his wits against Howe on the opening day of the season when United faced AFC Bournemouth. That match ended all-square, with Billy Sharp's late equaliser proving the catalyst for an encouraging start to the new campaign which has seen Wilder's men climb to eighth in the table.

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Dyche's presence in the opposition technical area brings a fascinating dynamic to United's latest home game. Aged 48, four years Wilder's junior, the former Chesterfield and Millwall centre-half has also mastered the art of being able to piece together squads whose effectiveness is greater than the sum of their parts.

Wilder makes no secret of the fact he studies his managerial counterparts. Speaking after United's trip to the London Stadium, he explained Manuel Pellegrini, previously of River Plate and Real Madrid, had come under the microscope beforehand. And not only as United's coaching staff attempted to second guess his tactical predilections.

"We analyse teams and we analyse what managers do," Wilder said. "That's something I've always taken a big interest in, how managers behave, what they say and how they act.

"It doesn't matter what shape people play. The manager on Saturday was a Premier League winner with Manchester City. You don't get his career unless you do a lot of things right."

Wilder's respect for Dyche has been evident since the end of last season when, after securing promotion from the Championship, he cited Burnley as a template for United to follow. Although Wilder does not plan on getting relegated at the end of the campaign - a fate which befell Burnley when they first climbed into the top-flight - he is fascinated by how Dyche led them back at the first attempt and then masterminded Europa League qualification.

Like Wilder, Dyche places huge importance on the character of his players. That, combined with the mutual respect between the two men in the dug-outs, is expected to lead to a tight, hard-fought contest. Taking care of small details will be crucial.

"We've looked at possession, at times we have to be better from back to front," Wilder said. "We're up against really good athletes. We have to keep our shape but if we can commit, we will do. Concentration levels have to be good, because of the quality the opposition have at this level, right the way through."