Ahead of his first Steel City derby as Sheffield United manager, Chris Wilder was paranoid rivals Sheffield Wednesday were spying on his team.
The Blades’ training ground is much closer to Hillsborough than it is to Bramall Lane. The majority of football supporters in that area are therefore Wednesday fans.
In the 2017/18 season Wilder was getting his team ready for their first Sheffield derby in six years. The 52-year-old had lead United to promotion from League One after six years in England’s third tier.
As a boyhood Blades fan and former player, the significance of the occasion was not lost on Wilder. And he was somewhat on edge.
“Whoever thought about putting our training ground right in the heart of Sheffield Wednesday territory wants shooting,” the United boss said on the At Home With Colin Murray podcast.
“It was quite funny when we played them in the Championship, because there was a drone outside my office.
“I opened the window; ‘This is the effing team, if you want the effing team.’ It was like Bielsa and I went through the team because I thought they were having a spy on us.
“Then someone said; ‘It’s just someone doing some investigations for some measurements and stuff like that.
“The idiot manager, paranoid as hell before his first Sheffield derby, opening the window and shouting.”
Chris Wilder didn’t need to worry about Sheffield Wednesday
Wilder name checks Leeds United head coach, Marcelo Bielsa, because he has become known for naming his team ahead of games.
It has happened on at least five occasions since Bielsa took charge at Elland Road in 2018. The Argentine was also involved in the “spygate” scandal of last term. A Leeds employee was instructed to watch Derby County training ahead of the two sides meeting in the Championship.
For Wilder, though, he didn’t need to worry about the Owls. Not only were they not spying, but he got the better of the Blades’ great rivals in that fixture – winning 4-2 at Hillsborough.
In the four meetings between the two teams, Wilder has never lost – drawing the other three.