FAR from being shredded into a thousand pieces, the footballing form book will remain intact when Chesterfield play host to Sheffield United tomorrow, Robert Page believes
But the former Wales international, who represented both clubs during an 18-year career, warned the visitors that complacency could prove costly against John Sheridan’s side.
“On paper, derbies are always difficult to predict but if Sheffield United play to their capabilities then, to be honest, I can only see one winner and that’s them,” Page said.
“They’ve got more quality and more knowledge of being at a higher level in their squad.
“But that’s always a big ‘if’ in these situations because nothing can be taken for granted.”
United, relegated from the Championship last season, make the short journey to the B2net Stadium in fifth place. Their opponents are languishing at the bottom of the League One table despite waltzing to promotion six months ago.
Page, who made over 100 appearances for United between 2001 and 2004, told The Star: “Danny (Wilson) has got Sheffield United going well and they’re in a good position.
“Obviously everyone would like to be top but they’re in touch with the leaders and will be looking to build from there. They’ve given themselves the platform to do that at the business end.
“I really do hope they go straight back up.
“In fact, I think the city needs both – them and Sheffield Wednesday – to get back to at least the Championship because the derbies are such great games that they deserve a bigger and better stage.”
Page, now youth-team coach at Port Vale, spent nearly three seasons with Chesterfield before retiring in March.
“Having worked briefly with John at Chesterfield I know how hard he’ll be working to put things right,” he said “The same goes for Tommy (Wright) and Big Norm (Mark Crossley). They’re fighters.
“Personally, I thought Chesterfield would go a little bit better than then have done this season and that will be hurting John. He was such a great player himself that I can imagine it’s very difficult at times to be able to see or do things that perhaps the people you’re working with can’t.
“But he’s capable of turning it around and getting things right, which is exactly what he’ll be busting a gut to do.”
While Chesterfield battle to recapture their old magic, United are under pressure of an altogether different kind, with Wilson acknowledging they must challenge for promotion or incur the wrath of supporters.
Despite the Blades overcoming Carlisle courtesy of Ched Evans’ first-half strike six days ago, there were grumblings of discontent on the terraces about the manner in which victory was achieved.
Wilson’s repeated warnings that United, or any of their rivals for that matter, can not expect to simply “waltz” through the division have clearly fallen on deaf ears.
Wednesday, who entertain Leyton Orient tomorrow, are third but finished the previous campaign in 15th place.
Page said: “Names don’t count for anything at all.
“People aren’t going to let you go out and do whatever you want or like during games but United have still got some really strong characters.”