Give us a chance and we won’t let you down

DANNY WILSON yesterday vowed to win over the Sheffield United hate mob amid unique scenes in the history of Steel City football.

Nearly 200 supporters protested over his appointment in the Bramall Lane car park as Wilson was unveiled as the club’s new manager.

He is the first manager to cross Sheffield’s footballing divide – albeit 11 years on from his departure from Sheffield Wednesday – and the move has sparked uproar.

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The Blades are currently preparing for life in League One after suffering relegation from the Championship.

It will be the first time in 22 years that they have dropped down to third level football and, ironically, they will also be renewing acquaintances with the Owls after 12 months apart.

Chairman Kevin McCabe, who sacked Micky Adams two weeks ago, plumped for Wilson after drawing up a shortlist which also included former Barnsley manager Mark Robins and Rochdale’s Keith Hill.

Wilson has penned a three-year deal and will be assisted by his former Owls’ No 2 Frank Barlow, Blades captain Chris Morgan, and Academy director John Pemberton.

Relishing the challenge, Wilson – who previously made history as the only manager to steer Barnsley into the Premier League 14 years ago – said: “Listen, I am not foolish enough to think that it’s not difficult to come across the divide but, as far as I am concerned, it is a massive privilege to come to a club of this size and help turn them around.

“You have to win fans over wherever you go. We are always in a difficult position as managers, but some are more difficult than others. But I can promise to work very hard for this football club and eventually we will win people over.”

Wilson, originally from Wigan, has lived in the Sheffield area since his early days as a player with Chesterfield in the 1980s.

Now 51, he has managed four other clubs – Bristol City, Milton Keynes Dons, Hartlepool United and Swindon Town – since ending a two-year spell with Sheffield Wednesday which resulted in relegation from the Premier League.

Asked about the reaction of the Blades supporters, Wilson said: “It does surprise me a little but, possibly, it is understandable.

“There is a great tradition and rivalry between the two clubs and I know that better than anybody. I have lived around this area for 25 years and I know what the clubs mean to the people of Sheffield.

“I knew it was not going to be smooth seas. The history that people will try to rub up means it is always going to be difficult – but I am a determined character and this will only make me more determined.

“You want people on your side but that’s my problem. It’s up to me to win the fans over.

“I am a determined character and I am very committed and honest in what I do. This is a fantastic club and if we get it moving it will be like a massive juggernaut that takes some stopping.”

During his last job as manager of Swindon, Wilson endured the agony of defeat in the 2010 League One play-off final. He resigned in March of this year with the club just weeks away from relegation to League Two.

Wilson was also relegated from League One with Hartlepool and Milton Keynes Dons but led Bristol City to the play-offs twice, losing to Cardiff City in the 2003 semi-finals and Brighton and Hove Albion in the 2004 final.

After five different managers in the last nine months, the Blades want Wilson to bring stability to the club.

“Results will determine the time I get,” he said. “But that is in any job, not just Sheffield United. We know if you don’t get results, people will be calling for certain changes. I would ask the fans to give us a chance to prove what we can do. I think everyone in life deserves a chance. Give us a chance and we will not let you down.”

Although Wilson’s dual assocation is a first for Sheffield, there are examples in other English cities where managers have served at different times for two rival clubs.

Ron Saunders led Aston Villa to the First Division title and pointed them towards European Cup glory before later managing neighbours Birmingham while George Graham won two league titles with Arsenal before an ill-fated spell at North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Wilson highlighted former Manchester United striker Mark Hughes as an example of a manager who won over an initially sceptical audience when moving to Manchester City in 2008.

“You could imagine it was a similar type of thing,” he said. “There was a little bit of hostility but he won them over, they played football and he was a hero. When Mark Hughes left Manchester City, they were up in arms. I would love to think that will be the case here.”