Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, believes the support his players enjoyed during their FA Cup victory over Ipswich Town earlier this month makes a mockery of suggestions the competition no longer matters.
United sold out their ticket allocation for the third round tie at Portman Road and, speaking ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Preston North End in the next stage of the tournament, Wilder confirmed he is determined to progress despite forthcoming Championship fixtures against the likes of Aston Villa, Leeds and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“People keep saying the cup isn’t what it was for fans, that people don’t buy into it anymore,” Wilder said. “Well, we took 1,200 down to Ipswich with us, on a cold afternoon in January, just after Christmas when people don’t have any money. Then we sold out at Norwich and we’ll do the same, I’m sure, at Hull too.
“I live in the city and I know how hard it is to follow your team the length and breadth. That tells you all you need to know about our fans, they’ve been phenomenal. The backing is brilliant and, because of the effort they show, that’s why we always try and give them value for money.”
United enter the meeting with Alex Neil’s side with no fresh injuries following last weekend’s victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road. New signings Lee Evans, Ryan Leonard, Ricky Holmes and James Wilson were all named in the squad which travelled to Norfolk but only the latter is available for selection this weekend.
“We’re okay injury wise,” Wilder said. “The lads were outstanding, with everything they did, at Norwich. So to come away from a really competitive game like that with no new injury problems is really pleasing. We’ve got to plot a course through the schedule. We’ve got a big cup tie and then some glamorous Championship games.”