Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder thinks West Ham United are in the “top six bracket.”
The two sides meet in the Premier League this weekend for the first time since the 2006/07 season. Famously, West Ham avoided relegation at the expense of the Blades that term, although later had to pay them compensation.
That was because the Hammers fielded Carlos Tevez – who scored seven goals in the final ten games to help keep them up – despite his ineligibility to play.
Tevez was owned by a third party; something which was, and remains, against the Premier League rules.
As football.london reports, the East London side were fined £5.5m for breaking those rules, but crucially were not docked points. The Blades then sought compensation for loss of earnings due to going down and were eventually paid £18.1m in instalments by West Ham.
The South Yorkshire side then spent the next 12 years in the EFL – six of which were in League One. Then Wilder took charge and lead them back to the top flight with two promotions in three years.
For the Hammers they did eventually drop briefly into the Championship themselves in 2011/12, but bounced back at the first time of asking via the playoffs.
Why Chris Wilder thinks West Ham can break the top six
This is now their ninth consecutive campaign in the top tier of English football. During that time they have never finished lower than 13th, with seventh in 2015/16 a record high.
Since that season – when Leicester City won a shock title – the top six has been made up of the same predictable clubs. Yet Wilder thinks this term could be the one where West Ham cause an upset.
“They’re one of those teams in that bracket,” the 52-year-old told BBC Radio Sheffield. “That will be the expectation from the manager, the players, the football club and the supporters.
“They’re an established Premier League team and when you’re in that position you’ve always got to be looking ahead at what’s above you and trying to climb to that next bracket.
“West Ham will definitely have ambitions and ideas to climb into the top six.”