Ahead of Sheffield United v Burnley this weekend, the two managers have been discussing their friendship.

Blades boss Wilder has already praised the “exceptional” job Dyche has done during his seven years in charge at Turf Moor. Now the Clarets chief has returned the favour.

The two have known each other since the early 1990s when they both played in the same region. Wilder – an academy product at Bramall Lane – also featured for Rotherham United during that time. Dyche spent seven years at Chesterfield.

When they moved into managerial careers, their paths continued to cross. Although this will be the first time they have actually been in opposite dugouts as opponents.

“I think Chris has done a fantastic job,” Dyche said in his pre-match press conference. “Not just there, by the way, but his whole career when you look down it and all the different places he’s been to.

“I played against him all those years ago, but I really got to know him when he was at Oxford and he used to come over to the Watford training ground.

“People probably know I live in Northampton and when I’m there I try and get to a game. If he heard I was in the stadium he’d always ask me to come down. I just thought it was a great gesture and I always went down to see him.

“I’ve always enjoyed his company, I still do. I saw him in the summer on a golf trip. I’ve got a lot of time for him, Alan, his staff and his players and they’re doing a great job.”

Two friends meet in Sheffield United v Burnley

(Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Dyche’s route to the Premier League has been a lot more direct than Wilder’s. After making the step up from the backroom staff, his first job was in the Championship with Watford.

A change of ownership meant that only lasted one season, before he made the switch to Burnley. They have twice been promoted to the top flight since then and 2019/20 is their fourth successive campaign at this level.

During that same time Wilder was managing in non-league with Oxford United. He took them into the Football League and then made the move to Northampton Town, winning the League Two title in 2015/16.

The following year Wilder moved to the Blades and two promotions in three years has seen them rise to the same level as Dyche’s men.

Related Topics