Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder hoping for the start of something big as Premier League adventure begins

CHRIS WILDER, the Sheffield United manager, insists his side will not get caught up in the emotion of today’s return to the Premier League after a dozen years away.

Ready for action: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

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The Blades head to Bournemouth on the opening day as Yorkshire’s sole representative in the top flight.

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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Flying the flag for not only the Steel City but also the county makes the 51-year-old lifelong fan proud, not least because the club was stuck in League One when he took charge just three years ago.

Despite that, Wilder is adamant his only focus come kick-off will be ensuring United start life back among the elite in a positive fashion.

“I am excited and, of course, I am proud to lead the club in our first game back in the Premier League,” he told The Yorkshire Post. “But there is a game to be played. We cannot get caught up in this being the first game back in the Premier League or anything else.

“There will be a lot of emotion around the fixture but we have to be professional and try to get a result at a very difficult place against a team and a manager I have got a lot of admiration for. We have to be disciplined, nice and bright, and take the game to the opposition.

Oliver McBurnie welcomed by manager Chris Wilder (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

“Everyone wants to get off to a good start, whether you are a newly promoted side or the champions of the Premier League. You just want to win the first game, get some points on the board and then try win the second.”

United’s last spell in the Premier League ended after just a solitary year. Relegation came as a bitter blow, the pain added to by West Ham United staying up on the final day thanks to Carlos Tevez scoring the winner at Manchester United.

The Hammers had entered into an illegal third party agreement when signing the Argentinian but escaped with a £5.5m fine rather than the points deduction that the Blades felt should have been implemented.

Wilder, then manager of Halifax Town, was in the crowd at Bramall Lane as United’s fate was sealed by a home defeat to Wigan Athletic but he insists that 2007 episode belongs in the past.

“People talk about what went off the last time we were in this division,” he said. “Should that have happened or this have happened? All stuff we can’t affect. I want to look forward and make some new memories.

“There is a new generation watching us in the Premier League. They will enjoy it, as will the supporters who have watched us for years and years. Hopefully, it is the start of something.

“Look at Sheffield’s heritage as a football city. As you would expect, I am not right bothered about anything else that happens in this city, footballing-wise. Just us.

“But this is a great rivalry (with Wednesday). It has fluctuated, the rivalry. Good times for us and poor times for those in S6, and the other way round. From a city point of view, this is the fifth biggest in England and lot of good things are happening.

“Hopefully, the addition of a Premier League club will boost a city we all love.”

For Wilder, Bournemouth is an apt place for United’s top flight adventure to begin.

He has long been an admirer of what Eddie Howe has achieved on the south coast, the pair having met during pre-season a couple of years ago when both clubs were staying in Marbella.

“Bournemouth have kept moving forward and that is what we want,” added Wilder, who has been inundated in recent days with good luck messages from managerial peers such as Tony Pulis and Paul Lambert. “Bournemouth’s model is really good in terms of recruitment and coaching. The staff make their players better – and make them a unit.

“The likes of Bournemouth and Brighton, they are inspirations. Brighton are in their third year as a Premier League club, Bournemouth their fifth. Yes, a few teams have dropped down and come back up.

“But there are some good stories about teams who have come up and we want to stay there as well. Get ourselves a platform and be competitive in every game.

“Huddersfield were another great example as well in their first season. They didn’t score a goal in the play-offs, went up on penalties as little old Huddersfield, and then stayed up with a result at Chelsea.

“Our expectation is to take it game by game and be competitive, as we did last year. We never looked at groups of games for getting this or that amount of points. We just focus on the next game, which for us is Bournemouth.”