It was six days ago at Oakwell, not Tuesday’s victory over Middlesbrough or even last season’s League One title winning campaign, when Chris Basham realised just how much Sheffield United has changed.
Trailing neighbours Barnsley midway through last weekend’s South Yorkshire derby, Chris Wilder’s players trooped-off the pitch for the half-time break and were encouraged rather than castigated by their fans.
The same thing happened over an hour later when, after throwing away the advantage they had spectacularly wrestled back, the visitors headed down the tunnel to reflect upon a shock defeat and worry how it might affect their promotion challenge.
Basham, who admitted to being moved by the encouragement Wilder’s team received, believes that makes them an even more formidable proposition as they prepare for tomorrow’s showdown with sixth placed Millwall.
“To know the supporters are behind us like that, well, I can’t tell you what a lift it is,” the defender said. “A few years ago, we’d have been getting slaughtered if we’d have performed like we did to begin with at Barnsley and also at the end. People pay their money and are entitled to their opinion. But the supporters can see we’re giving everything, they could see it wasn’t over, and we proved that when Boro came here.”
United will move level on points with Neil Harris’ side if they avenge December’s 3-1 reverse in south London.
“I’m not surprised to see them where they are,” Basham said. “They’re a strong group, like us, but we believe we have got what it takes to get there.”