Time to create new memories – Wilder not dwelling on past as Blades meet Hammers
Chris Wilder sees Sheffield United’s trip to West Ham as the next step towards creating more positive memories for the club’s supporters – not a chance to rake up the past.
Saturday’s game at the London Stadium is the first time the two clubs have met in a league game since the Carlos Tevez saga in 2007.
A 2-1 home defeat to Wigan on the final day of the season together with West Ham’s victory over champions Manchester United at Old Trafford, where Tevez scored the winning goal, saved the Hammers from relegation and sent Neil Warnock’s team down on goal difference.
The Blades were furious that the Argentinian, who played a crucial role in West Ham’s survival by scoring six times across the final nine games of the season, was eligible to play at the end of the 2006-07 campaign after the existence of third-party agreements had been discovered that January.
An independent Premier League commission imposed a record £5.5million fine on the London club rather than a points deduction. Although, an independent FA tribunal found in Sheffield United’s favour a year later after they had appealed against the decision and the Hammers paid the Blades around £20million in compensation.
It has taken the South Yorkshire side 12 years to return to the Premier League, with Wilder taking his boyhood club from League One to the top flight since his appointment as manager in the summer of 2016.
He said: “It was a difficult period when it happened, and there’s been some lows since, but I think it is a time for us to look forward now and create new memories, especially for a younger generation of supporters to encourage them to follow us.
“Being in the Premier League will obviously help that and over the last three years the players have created many memories that we can look back on in a few years – the younger generation as well as the older generation who can remember some not so good times.
“West Ham is the next game, the next step, for us in our aim of staying in this division now that we have got back here.”
Wilder insists he bears no grudge towards West Ham, saying: “Many years have passed since it all happened and I actually have a big admiration for West Ham with the way they’ve gone about it in the past.
“I think they are a very similar club to Sheffield United – a working-class club from the east end of London and the supporters want to see them play good football and work hard.
“I think a West Ham fan could have a beer with a Sheffield United fan and they’d have a lot to talk about – maybe they should, I don’t know. But there are a few clubs whose fans maybe you wouldn’t sit down and have a beer with. I’ll leave you to fill the blanks in!”