Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has dismissed claims that Scunthorpe’s push for promotion is a footballing fairytale ahead of tomorrow’s top of the table clash between the two clubs.
Over 25,000 people are expected to watch the League One leaders take on Graham Alexander’s side at Bramall Lane and although Wilder is full of respect for the visitors’ achievements - “They’re up there for a reason” - he rubbished suggestions United’s nearest rivals are striking a blow for less high-profile clubs.
“I don’t think it’s ‘little old Scunthorpe.’ People inside football know what happens, in terms of budgets,” Wilder said. “They might not have 15,000 supporters, but they have a lot of things going for them; moving into a new stadium, a chairman (that) has heavily backed that club, brought in a lot of good players and been going at it for a year now, building things up.
“They are up there for a reason, have got some really good results, and the manager has done a great job. I think they will be extremely disappointed if they drop out of the top two come the end of the season.”
United face third-placed Bolton Wanderers next weekend before travelling to play-off contenders Rochdale on March 4.
“We always get that (budgets) chucked at us, at Sheffield United and Bolton, and I totally understand that,” Wilder added. “Scunthorpe have invested in players, have a lot of good players, but you don’t get them without attracting them for a reason. Usually, it’s a financial one.”
United remained five points clear of Scunthorpe after drawing with Bristol Rovers in midweek. Wanderers are two further adrift but have played fewer matches than any other team in the top six.
Denying his comments represent an attempt to ramp-up the pressure on Alexander’s team, Wilder said: “I am not going to spin it, saying it’s just another three points, it isn’t. It’s a big game.
“Whoever comes out on top on Saturday, will be feeling really good. Scunthorpe would, because of their form recently, that will give them a big lift. They will see that as a massive gain for them.
“We just want to keep driving it forward, adding to the points total. Play well, and if we can’t win, we don’t get beat.”
United’s preparations for the fixture received a boost yesterday when it was confirmed both James Hanson and Simon Moore have recovered from injury. Hanson missed Tuesday’s trip to the south-west due to a slight groin problem while Moore received a nasty blow to the face during a second-half collision.
“James is available for selection,” Wilder said. “Simon is okay, that won’t keep him out of the team. He took one for the team, and looking back at the replay he was a brave boy. He will be okay, apart from not looking the best.”