Cynics will label it a flagrant attempt to curry favour on the terraces.
Chris Wilder, explaining why Sheffield United must harness the power of their “amazing” supporters, simply thinks it makes footballing sense.
“There’s nobody in our division who can produce, in terms of fans and the size of a following, what we can produce. Nobody at all.
“I know because I’ve played here. It can give you an extra yard of pace, an extra foot off the ground when you’re going for a header or even more determination to win back the ball.”
Wilder, a former United defender, has attempted to make light of his long association with Bramall Lane since becoming manager 12 weeks ago. But insisting success in the technical area rather than sentiment proved the driving force behind his appointment - “I’m here because I’m good at my job” - the 48-year-old is nevertheless determined to re-energise the relationship between United and a home crowd which averaged 19,803 last term. On the road, the South Yorkshire club yesterday confirmed its full allocation of tickets for Saturday’s League One opener at Bolton Wanderers has sold-out.
Central to his plan is implementing a more confrontational, aggressive game plan than the one employed by his predecessor Nigel Adkins and, to a lesser extent, Nigel Clough.
“It’s not up to us to wait for the punters to get us going,” Wilder said. “It’s up to us to try and kick-start the process. Of course, there are going to be times when we need them to help us. There are always going to be tough times over the course of a season and you never know when those might be. It’s nearly impossible, barring injuries and such like, to predict. But, by and large, we’ve got to try and give the fans something to be proud and excited about.”
United, who will monitor the fitness of centre-forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin before naming their squad for Saturday’s visit to the Macron Stadium, have signed seven new players during the close season. All of those, including John Fleck, Leon Clarke, Jack O’Connell and James Wilson, could feature against Phil Parkinson’s side.” I think we’ve done some good business and brought some real assets in,” Wilder said. “Coupled with the players we’ve got too, undoubted talents that we’ve not always got the best out of here, we’ve done well and people seem to be excited about the type of lads we’ve brought in which is good.”
Despite threatening to stage a mass boycott of the trip to Wanderers in protest at high ticket prices, United have confirmed they are set to enjoy a following of over 4,000 in Lancashire after securing 500 extra seats.
“Home and away, we know our fans always turn out in their numbers,” Wilder said. “So we want to give them something to be proud of. That’s not just results. It’s about hard work and commitment. Those two things have to be the bottom line.”