Sheffield United legend Brian Deane thinks there is a key difference with the club this season in comparison to previous ones in the Premier League. And that is Chris Wilder.
This campaign is only the fourth the Blades have played in the division since its re-branding in 1992. Deane was there back then, famously scoring the first league goal in its new guise.
At the time Dave Bassett was in charge – one of only three people to mange the club in the Premier League. Later Neil Warnock would guide them back to the top flight for the 2006/07 season.
Now it is the turn of Wilder and Deane thinks there is something that sets him apart.
“The difference this year is Chris Wilder is from Sheffield. An ex-teammate of mine. He actually knows what is expected,” the former striker said during an NBC documentary about United.
“Everything you do in Yorkshire has to be underpinned with sweat, blood and tears.”
Why Brian Deane thinks Chris Wilder is special
As Deane says, he and Wilder played together for the Blades in the early 1990s. Born just five months apart, the two Yorkshiremen understand what it means to represent the club.
For Wilder it is probably more than most. A boyhood United fan, he later played for them and is now manager.
Yet the road has been long. Wilder’s career has taken him from non-league with Alfreton, Halifax Town and Oxford United into the EFL and now the Premier League.
During that time the 52-year-old has been promoted into all of the top four divisions in England. It is an apprenticeship that is now earning Wilder plaudits at the very top.
“I hope nobody thinks this is an accident. The guy’s been managing for years and years,” Deane continued.
“It’s not always been glamorous, it’s not always been Sheffield United in the top division. Chris has done a stint – Halifax, Oxford, Northampton and even lower than that. So just imagine the kind of knowledge Chris has got.
“Chris is going to have to grow as well, but I believe he has got all the ingredients to make sure they give everybody a good game.”