Should Sheffield United consider this Sheffield Wednesday player?

Seeing as Sheffield United have no match this weekend, let’s have a little bit of fun.

Friday, 28th February 2020, 6:00 am

Which members of Sheffield Wednesday’s squad would, if we selected a combined Steel City XI, make the cut?

The answer, given their neighbours are seventh in the Premier League table, is probably very few.

That isn’t a dig or a cheap shot. Fortunes, as United’s two promotions in the space of three seasons should remind us, can change quickly. Which explains Chris Wilder’s repeated warnings about the importance of not “getting comfortable” and losing to will to keep “driving on.”

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So if I can be accused of anything, with Wednesday exactly halfway down the Championship, it is stating the bleeding obvious. Not even someone who has signed up for one of Dejphon Chansiri’s 10 year tickets, could argue, in terms or results and talent, that United are the region’s top dogs right now.

There is, however, one player at Hillsborough who could prove a worthwhile addition to their ranks. He wouldn’t be a popular choice, in the unlikely event that Wilder might even consider signing him. But then again, neither was Gary Madine. And, after arriving on loan from Cardiff 11 months ago, the former Wednesday striker and one-time hate figure at United, departed a cult hero after helping Wilder’s men reach the highest level. He bought into The Blades as much as, after being convinced of his commitment, The Blades supporters bought into him.

Sheffield is blessed to be represented by two such passionate and historic clubs. That claim, I believe, stands true no matter who holds the balance of power at any given time or what division they are in. English sport does itself a disservice when it ignores its contribution and status as the cradle of the game billions of fans across the globe recognise today.

But the devoted backing United and Wednesday enjoy makes crossing the divide difficult. Madine and the 30 others who have done it have often found the journey, to differing degrees, littered with pitfalls.

Sheffield United face Sheffield Wednesday in the Steel City derby: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

So who is the person I reckon would be an interesting addition to Wilder’s playing staff? Before their identity is revealed, let me explain why I think he would prove an intriguing project for the 52-year-old. In my fantasy football type scenario, at least.

There is no doubting his ability. Indeed, it is possible to mount an argument that Wednesday, for long periods of his career since moving there, have failed to properly harness his skills.

But the player in question must also shoulder some of the responsibility for that. Yes, doubts have previously been expressed about his commitment to the group. Wilder, however, is a master of man-management. He can sort out the mavericks from the malcontents and United’s dressing room, commanded by strong characters such as Billy Sharp and Oliver Norwood, does not tolerate anyone unwilling to be selfless.

It is an environment, I reckon, which might bring out the best in him. Or prove, once and for all, if he really doesn’t possess the right attitude. On United’s part, there would precious few downsides to recruiting someone capable of producing off-the-cuff pieces of magic; if only to provide back-up for David McGoldrick, Norwood and their other sorcerers. Particularly as Wilder and his staff have shown themselves to be experts of knowing when to persevere and when to cut loose.

The Star's Sheffield United writer James Shield. Picture Scott Merrylees

I’m talking about Fernando Forestieri. And now I’m reaching, even though you should take this idea with a hefty pinch of salt, for my tin hat.

Sheffield United are performing wonders in the Premier League: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder is one of the best man-managers in the business: Tim Goode/PA Wire.