CRUNCH TIME

We pre­view the fi­nal round of League One fixtures in a four-page spe­cial

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By John Lyons & Alan Biggs

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.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

SHARP WORK: Sh­effield United’s Billy Sharp scores against Brad­ford, one of 29 this term ALL-SMILES: Chris Wilder SPICE: Evans may re­join Blades

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