We preview the final round of League One fixtures in a four-page special
IT’S BEEN a dream season for Sheffield United – and rounding it off by reaching 100 points would put the cherry on the icing that’s already on the cake.
Heading into their noon showdown with bottom side Chesterfield, the Blades are on 97 points, meaning victory will take them to the magical century mark.
Chris Wilder’s men have blazed a trail through League One this term, going into the final game a whopping 14 points clear of second-placed Bolton.
Skipper Billy Sharp now wants United to seize their chance to write themselves into Bramall Lane folklore.
The 31-year-old, who has hit 29 league goals to lead the Blades’ charge, said: “No disrespect to Chesterfield, they will give us a tough game, but we have a great chance at home to get 100 points and I don’t think anyone else can do that this season.”
Boyhood Sheffield United fan Wilder is getting used to success. He guided Northampton to the League Two title last term, earning 99 points in the process. The 49-year-old would love to go one better this time.
Sharp added: “We got promoted and he said ‘don’t you dare take your foot off the gas’. I know he will be on us, but the lads’ application has been a credit and we are on fire.” The Blades hierarchy are ready to reward Wilder for their best season in more than a decade by handing him a bumper new deal. He signed a three-year contract when he left Northampton for Bramall Lane 12 months ago, but the Blades board will act to avoid any risk of losing a manager whose remarkable record stands to make him one of the most sought-after in the country.
Wilder believes his beloved club can fulfil his ambition to go to the very top following their rampant return to the Championship.
United won’t rely on that loyalty after securing him on relatively modest terms last summer.
The FLP understands Wilder agreed the move on considerably less money than sacked predecessor Nigel Adkins. Wilder’s current deal is thought to be worth around £200,000 a year.
United are likely to at least double it, to guarantee keeping a manager who, incredibly, has never been sacked in 16 years as a boss, starting in Non-League and progressing up the pyramid.
While he has never operated in the Championship and enters the unknown in that sense, he had never managed in League One either until this season’s runaway success.
Imminent talks are planned, putting Wilder in an even stronger position to attract the four or five quality additions he wants to improve the Blades’ squad.
This afternoon’s opponent Chesterfield have long since been resigned to their fate.
And the meeting between the two clubs has been given added spice with reports that Spireites striker Ched Evans could leave them this summer for £500,000 to rejoin the Championship-bound Blades.
SHARP WORK: Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp scores against Bradford, one of 29 this term ALL-SMILES: Chris Wilder SPICE: Evans may rejoin Blades