The Sheffield United Christmas miracle which showed Chris Wilder why they should never give up

The 1990-91 season taught Chris Wilder to believe in Christmas miracles, which is why he is in no mood to give up on Sheffield United now.

Even after Wilder's reappointment as manager this month, few pundits have given them a snowflake's chance in Hell of staying in the Premier League as they head into this year’s festivities in its bottom three.

But he has known worse.

On this day in 1990 the main source of sore heads in the red-and-white half of Sheffield was not Christmas parties but the Blades' first league win of the season.

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Two Ian Bryson goals sandwiched strikes by Roy Keane and Stuart Pearce, and with Brian Deane adding a third, Nottingham Forest were beaten by a home side featuring Wilder, pictured.

It took the Blades to just seven points for the campaign, cutting the gap to safety to eight, but sparked them off, winning 10 of the next 14 games and finishing 13th in Division One.

“It was the same narrative from outside, a dismissive narrative – Sheffield United have lost again, Sheffield United have lost again, Sheffield United have drawn, we're going to get relegated, nobody's really bothered about us," said Wilder, whose side were at Aston Villa on Friday. “I've had experience of it.

“That occasion it felt like an FA Cup final win, supporters running on the pitch and everything. That was the start of a great escape, we won at Luton on the plastic (pitch) and in the new year we won seven games on the spin.

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MEMORIES: Sheffield United manager and former player Chris WilderMEMORIES: Sheffield United manager and former player Chris Wilder
MEMORIES: Sheffield United manager and former player Chris Wilder

“I'm not saying we're going to do that because the league has moved on but that group was together and took the blows on the chin, which you have to, and came out swinging.

“When things start to change and you get more belief, good things can happen, so we have to stay really positive and believe we can replicate what that team did in 1990.”

Then as now the Blades face Luton Town on Boxing Day but this time at Bramall Lane. In 1990-91, the Hatters went in the opposite direction, dropping from 12th on the 23rd to relegation but this season’s game will be between two newly-promoted sides in the Premier League’s bottom three.

As Wilder knows all too well, bleak as it looks for both, anything is possible.

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