West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini has been discussing Sheffield United ahead of this weekend’s match.
The two sides meet in the Premier League on Saturday for the first time in 12 years. The last time they were both in the top flight it ended in controversial circumstances.
West Ham avoided relegation at the expense of the Blades on the final day of the 2006/07 season. Yet it later emerged that Carlos Tevez – who scored seven goals in the last ten games for the Hammers – played despite being owned by a third party.
That is against Premier League rules and they were fined £5.5m as a result; but crucially weren’t docked points. The Blades sought compensation for loss of earnings and, as football.london reports, were eventually paid £18.1m in instalments by the East London club.
Much has changed since then and ahead of the match, Chris Wilder told the Daily Mail the saga was “water under the bridge.”
Yet the history will certainly give the clash at the London Stadium an added edge.
What Manuel Pellegrini thinks about Wilder and the Blades
It certainly looks set to be a close encounter, with only goal difference separating the two teams in the table after nine games.
The Blades go into the fixture in better form on the back of their 1-0 victory over Arsenal on Monday. West Ham, meanwhile, haven’t won in their last three league outings and have lost the last two.
So, despite being newly promoted, Pellegrini is not taking his side’s opponents for granted at the weekend.
“They have a clear style of play. They are a consistent team, playing in the same way,” the Chilean told football.london. “I saw their game against Arsenal and they are a difficult team.
“They reflect his (Wilder’s) mentality. They’re clear in the way they play, have strong players, work for 95 minutes, lots of balls in the box. They know perfectly how to play to their style.”
When asked if he was surprised by the Blades’ good start, Pellegrini responded: “No. When you have a clear style of play, they will be a consistent team for the whole season.”