Reaching Europe would be a deserved reward for Sheffield United's special supporters
Chris Wilder hopes to compensate Sheffield United’s supporters for missing-out on some “amazing experiences” between now and the end of the season by leading the club into Europe next term.
Seventh in the table and only five points outside the Champions League places with 10 matches remaining, United will play their first match since March 13 later this month when they visit Aston Villa.
But with fixtures being staged behind closed doors because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Wilder sympathises with the fans, who are prohibited from attending 10 of United’s most important games for generations.
The prospect of being able to watch their team play continental opposition - in either the CL or the Europa League - would be some consolation.
“One hundred per cent, we’d rather all not be in this position, of people not being able to come into the stadiums,” Wilder, who called for the campaign to be suspended rather than played without crowds at the beginning of the crisis, said. “We’re all going to be missing out on some amazing experiences, such as going to places like Newcastle in front of a full house and also the ones here, when Chelsea, Spurs and all the others come, to our ground.
“Nobody wanted this. But I suppose, when you consider what the other option was, it is the smallest price to pay.
“The bigger picture is that we finish the season, try and finish what we’ve started, and we’ll be going that extra yard to try and make sure we can.”
With the remainder of the campaign being squeezed into a seven week window, United’s already gruelling schedule has been further complicated by their involvement in the FA Cup - where they are due to face Arsenal at the quarter-final stage. The tournament, which United have not won since 1925, also offers a route into Europe.
“We’re fit and we’re ready,” Wilder said. “These lads are professional footballers. They’ve not been sat at home on the sofa for the last few months. They’ve done everything we’ve asked of them because they know the opportunity they’ve given themselves through their hard work so far.”