Sheffield United head into today’s crucial League One climax to the season admitting they booked their hotel for the Wembley play-offs three months ago.
Many pundits believed the Blades had secured the second automatic promotion spot when they were five points clear of city rivals Wednesday with two games in hand.
It was more a case of the United players planning their summer holidays rather than looking for hotels in the North London area for the May 25 play-off final.
But an amazing 13-match unbeaten run by Dave Jones’s Owls have seen them turn round a potential four-game swing, 11 points, to leapfrog the Blades.
It means even if United win at Exeter today, after picking up just one point from their last two matches they will head for the play-offs if Wednesday beat Wycombe at Hillsborough.
Blades manager Danny Wilson revealed he and his backroom staff had initiated contingency plans for the play-offs three months ago.
They have booked hotels for Wembley and potential semi-final games against either Carlisle United, Stevenage or Notts County, with the first leg away being next Friday. Training facilities have also been put on hold, as Wilson prepares for every eventuality.
“I expect us to be in the play-offs,” admitted Wilson. “I said that last week and that’s not changed. I think we will be in the play-offs and be facing one of the three teams that are capable of getting sixth position.
“Ask me if I am worried about it – no, I am not because we have a great chance in front of us yet. Whichever way we go up to the Championship is irrespective from my point of view. When you see the fixture list next month for next season, and we are in there, I don’t think anyone will bother how you got there.
“But we are not taking anything for granted, not being conceited, not by any stretch.
“If it has to be through the play-offs, then so be it. I think a lot of people think we are just starting to prepare at the last game of the season just in case we get in the play-offs.
“We have been preparing for this for three months. We have had hotels booked, training facilities put on hold, just in case.
“We weren’t conceited enough to think we would go up automatically. You have to prepare, and that’s the professional side of us. You keep it quiet, but that’s what you have to do.
“Will it take us by surprise? No it won’t, none whatsoever.
“There will be no psychological dip, we have been very much prepared for it just in case. You have to be and you don’t want anything to take you by surprise.
“If it’s not automatic, we have a great chance in the play-offs,” insisted Wilson. “We are very much prepared for the play-offs as we have been for months.”
Thousands of Blades will watch the match at a beamback on big screens at Bramall Lane.
Warnock on Blades: Page 2.