SHEFFIELD UNITED’S romp to last season’s League One title added a fourth promotion to Chris Wilder’s managerial CV but he is the first to admit success in the Cups has proved much more elusive.
“I won the Northern Counties East President’s Cup and the Derbyshire Senior Cup with Alfreton Town, does that count?” laughed the 49-year-old yesterday when asked by The Yorkshire Post about his best run in knockout football since moving into coaching.
I won the Northern Counties East President’s Cup and the Derbyshire Senior Cup with Alfreton Town, does that count?Chris Wilder
“No, seriously, you’re right. I have not done anything in the Cups really as a manager. It would be good to change that.”
A first possible step for Wilder along the road of enjoying some long overdue success away from the league comes tonight at Bramall Lane.
Leicester City, Premier League champions in 2016, are heading for S2 along with the live Sky Television cameras as United return to a competition where they reached the semi-finals just three years ago.
“I know what the Cup nights can be like at Bramall Lane,” added Wilder, who has committed his future to the club he supported as a boy by signing a new three-year deal.
“They are special and something we all want to see again. Of course, we are still in the early rounds, and everyone understands the priority is the league.
“But it is a game of football, there will be a crowd there and the TV is screening it live. This is an opportunity to play well and I have drummed that into the players.
“We come in as underdogs but there have been plenty of occasions in the past where we have come in as underdogs and turned that situation around. We have an opportunity to do that again when we face Leicester.”
Wilder, who is “confident” the Blades will make progress in the transfer market before the weekend, made 11 changes for the first-round victory over Walsall.
It is likely to be a similar story tonight as United continue to adapt to life back in the Championship after a six-year absence.
George Baldock, a summer arrival from Milton Keynes Dons, is in line for his debut, while others set to start against the Foxes include Ched Evans, John Lundstram, Samir Carruthers and David Brooks.
“This is a key game for a lot of players,” admitted the Blades chief, who took Halifax Town to the 2006 Conference play-off final in between those previous promotion successes with Alfreton, Oxford United and Northampton Town. “I was disappointed with what we produced in the first half (against Walsall).
“Okay, the side was chucked together and had not played a lot of football together. But they have to get it that anything can happen (in a season to a squad).
“Look at Richard Stearman, he is out for a while now so Jake (Wright) has stepped in – and he did great against Barnsley.
“Other situations can crop up, either in training or matches, and I want a group of players pushing. I would imagine, further up the food chain at Leicester City, their manager will be the same.
“Whoever he (Craig Shakespeare) picks, he will want to go through to the next round. And he will want to know that if anything happens to his starting XI, the ones underneath are ready. That is key.
“You don’t talk any more about 11, 12, 14 players. It is a squad of 22 or 23, who can all step in.
“Whatever team puts that red and white shirt on, we want them to make a difference and impress. We were critical after Walsall so they know where I am with this.”
Last six games: Sheffield United WWWLLW, Leicester City WLLDLW.
Referee: T Harrington (Cleveland).
Last time: Sheffield United 0 Leicester City 1; February 1, 2011; Championship.