The derby means more than three points to Wilson

Passion: Danny Wilson is ready for the derby
Passion: Danny Wilson is ready for the derby
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SHEFFIELD United versus Sheffield Wednesday.

More than just a game. Bryan Robson, one of Danny Wilson’s most recent predecessors in the Bramall Lane hot-seat, was guilty of a PR gaffe when he clumsily insisted three points were the only thing at stake before journeying to Hillsborough in January 2008.

The present incumbent, having represented Sunday’s visitors as both a manager and a player, has an inherent understanding of what makes the Steel City tick, and was not about to make the same mistake when he met the press at Shirecliffe earlier this week.

“I’m looking forward to it and I’m absolutely excited about it,” Wilson said. “It’s been a few years since we met but that makes the atmosphere even more intense.”

If styles make fights then the 126th meeting between these bitter enemies promises to be an enthralling contest. Under Wilson’s tutelage United, who used to bludgeon opponents into submission, are now intent on picking them off with a series of well-chosen blows.

Wednesday, with the pugnacious Gary Megson at the helm, are still capable of producing perplexing combinations but appear the more likely to come out throwing haymakers during the early rounds.

This match might be taking place in League One but, with all due respect to neighbours Doncaster Rovers and Barnsley, its protagonists remain the region’s footballing heavyweights.

No other result resonates throughout South Yorkshire in quite the same way.

“I don’t think anyone knows what to expect,” Wilson continued. “The only thing you can say for certain is that it’s going to be very loud and passionate inside our stadium.

“Wednesday have got players who know this league but we’ve got plenty who know this game in and around the club,

though, and that’s been very valuable.

“People like Monty (Nick Montgomery) are always really good with the young lads and they’ll be passing on lots of advice. They’ll make sure those players who haven’t experienced one before know exactly what to expect.

“If they don’t understand, they definitely will do by the time the first tackle goes in.”

Of course Robson, whatever his detractors claimed at the time, understood the emotions which surround a derby, but every pantomime needs a villain.

Wilson’s links with Wednesday have formed an intriguing sub-plot to this weekend’s game, although the former Northern Ireland international admitted yesterday that he doesn’t care whether he receives a warm welcome from the travelling support.

Privately, Wilson remains proud of his achievements with United’s arch-rivals and appreciative of the respect he commands among their fans. But those who still maintain he can not be totally committed to the home side’s cause completely misunderstand a professional sportsperson’s DNA.

“We know what’s up for grabs,” said Wilson.