Chris Wilder has drawn comparisons between Sheffield United and Bristol City ahead of their meeting at Bramall Lane tomorrow night.
The two clubs enter the match ranked fourth and third, level on points, and with only goal difference separating them in the race for promotion from the Championship.
But, having out-performed big spending teams such as Middlesbrough and Aston Villa during the first 20 matches of the campaign, Wilder believes the approach City employ off-the-pitch is also broadly similar to the one adopted by officials at Bramall Lane.
“I think there’s a similarity between us,” the United manager said. “When they came up, I think it’s their second or third year, they have improved. That’s what they will have wanted to do. I do believe it’s a big club in the division, a big catchment area. If you look at their ground and the investment in it, to make it a really good, strong Championship club, they’ve done trading too. The boy (Jonathan) Kodija went for £11m or whatever and they invested it well into some good players. There are similarities.”
United, last season’s League One champions, have drawn one and lost two of their previous three outings while City, managed by former Barnsley’s chief Lee Johnson, followed up a 3-2 win over Hull City by beating Middlesbrough five days ago.
“They deserve to be where they are, as do we,” Wilder, speaking at his pre-match media conference, continued. “They possibly weren’t expected to be up there at the start, like us, but the players they’ve got in have done well and are good players.
“They’ve got good technical players, they’ve got good movement and good athletic ability. It’s all set up to be a big game.”
Dean Holden, City’s first team coach, revealed the respect between the two camps is mutual before travelling to South Yorkshire.
“Total respect for Chris Wilder and Alan Knill. They’ve gone in there and taken over a massive club who haven’t done so well in recent years and they’ve picked it up,” he said. “It was an amazing season last year to get promoted and they’ve carried it on. I think it’s two teams who are quite similar and play similar types of football.”