SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Chris Wilder dedicated the Blades’ first Premier League victory in over 12 years to the supporters who stuck by the club during some lean times in League One earlier this decade.
A goal just after the interval from midfielder John Lundstram saw the Bramall Lane outfit secure a precious 1-0 triumph over visiting Crystal Palace – as they claimed three points in the top-flight for the first time since a single-goal success over Watford on April 28, 2007.
It was just reward for what Wilder labelled as a ‘really powerful performance’ on an afternoon when the Blades chief became the first manager to name a fully British/Irish starting XI in his first two Premier League matches since Gary Megson did so in 1995 with Norwich City.
Wilder, whose side welcome Leicester City on Saturday, said: “I know more than anyone what these supporters have had to go through and what they have been served up and had to deal with.
“But they kept coming back every week and supporting the team – 22,000 fans when 12th in League One, that is ridiculous.
“They kept coming for a reason, because it is their football club. Sometimes these days would have seemed a million miles off, so this is definitely a day for our supporters and one for them to enjoy and stick down in the memory bank.
“They have gone through the mill; these are not glory-hunting supporters. This club can go anywhere at any stage – and it has done. But hopefully now we are in the right direction.”
A crowd of 30,197 saw United produce a dominant performance, particularly in the second-half, against a Palace side who had won five of their last six away league fixtures.
But on a day when much of the pre-match talk centred on the return to the fray of Palace’s talismanic winger Wilfried Zaha, subject of strong interest from Arsenal and Everton in the summer window, all the discourse afterwards focused on a United side who can reflect on a positive unbeaten start to the new campaign.
Praising his side’s game management, Wilder added: “We did not allow them to get into any rhythm. They are an outstanding side away from home and had won seven out of their last 10.
“We got the balance and the shape of the team right.
“Even late on in the game, when we had to stand tough, I thought we did that. It was a good day from my point of view as the manager in terms of how we played with and without the ball.
“It was a really powerful performance from us. It is early days. We are two games in and have had a fantastic start. I think it is always difficult for established Premier League teams to play promoted teams early on.
“It is never easy to come up against a team with newness, enthusiasm and that little bit of momentum from the previous year.
“It was always going to be difficult for Palace and it was always going to be difficult with the atmosphere and the way our team play.
“For me, the key now is can we take it on because we need to. We need to show a consistency about our play, but I think in the last two games, we have.
“We had to manage the game. There was a lot of talk about the first (home) game back in the Premier League after 12 years with a full house – and how passionate and noisy the support were going to be, which was always going to be a given.
“But we had to make sure we married it up with a disciplined and well-balanced performance and we did.”
Meanwhile, Wilder professed his delight at an ‘outstanding’ display from Lundstram, who has grasped his opportunity in the top-flight, despite struggling for game-time for spells of last season’s promotion campaign.
The Blades chief, whose side have been beaten just once in the league on home soil this year, said: “It has been a really difficult period for John. Everyone is delighted for him as he is such a good kid and sometimes, you just need a little bit of a break.
“I said to him at the back end of the season that if we did manage to go up, he should not start thinking: ‘that is me done’.
“It was not and I always thought he had a part to play and show that level of consistency. He was outstanding.”
The only downside for United were the substitutions of John Fleck and Callum Robinson, who were forced off with hamstring niggles on Sunday.
They will be assessed this week ahead of the Leicester game.
Report: Page 3