HUNDREDS of furious fans staged a noisy protest as Danny Wilson was appointed manager of Sheffield United - but a fans’ group official said he must be given a chance, writes Nik Brear.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch a special video report from the ground by The Star’s Sheffield United reporter James Shield.
MORE VIDEO: Watch our video of the fans’ protest and Danny Wilson’s first press conference - see the story links below.
Protestors gathered at Bramall Lane yesterday to make sure owner Kevin McCabe knew exactly what they thought of his latest choice - labelling the appointment a ‘joke’.
They carried a large banner reading ‘Love Utd, Hate Wilson’ and chanted ‘Wilson Out’ and ‘What a waste of money’ as former Sheffield Wednesday player and manager Wilson was unveiled as new boss.
Mr McCabe invited the demonstrators into the ground to meet and talk to Wilson.
Lifelong United supporter John Whiteley, aged 55, of Dronfield, said: “It’s the worst appointment I’ve seen in the 45 years I’ve been a Blade.
“McCabe talks about wanting to get back in touch with the fans, then he alienates us like this.”
“It’s a disgrace,” said 22-year-old Brett Gregory, of Hackenthorpe.
“Wilson is a Wednesday man for one, who’s never done anything of worth in his career as a manager. I fail to see the logic either way.”
And the growing crowd’s jeers could be heard upstairs where Wilson was giving his first press conference as the Blades’ fourth permanent manager in nine months.
“It does surprise me a little,” he said of the fans’ reaction.
“But maybe it’s understandable. I knew it would be very difficult to cross that city divide, but you have to win fans over.”
The 51-year-old, who has just signed a three-year contract with United, also spoke of his love for the city he has called home for the past 25 years.
“I understand the passion that the people of Sheffield have for their clubs, but I make this promise to the fans: my commitment is here and I’ll work very hard for this club. It’s a privilege to be here.”
And Alan Smith, secretary of Sheffield United Supporters’ Club’s Kiveton Park branch, said Wilson should be given a chance.
He said: “I don’t agree with this demonstration and I never have done.
“I have every confidence that Kevin McCabe will have chosen the right bloke and whether he does well or not remains to be seen.
“I just hope and pray that he’s successful because the others haven’t been.
“I wish him all the success I really do. We are all on the same side now.
“If he fails he will be out of a job, so we shall see what happens - we need to back him up.”
Peter Whitney, chairman of the Sheffield United Supporters’ Club, said: “I’m not overjoyed and I can understand the reaction but he must have interviewed well.
“He’s appointed so there’s nothing we can do about it.
“The decision has been made, we just have to hope it’s the correct one.”
However supporter Tony Hill, 31, of Park Hill grumbled: “Anyone would have been better than Wilson.
“You don’t see Alan Shearer taking the Sunderland job, you don’t see Ian Wright taking the Spurs job - why have we got a Sheffield Wednesday man here?
“All the outraged people here today can’t be wrong, why isn’t McCabe listening to us?”
Fellow former Tykes manager Mark Robins and former Chelsea footballer Roberto Di Matteo were two names that kept cropping up as fans’ favourites for the job.
“Di Matteo would have been fantastic, as would Robins,” added Brett Gregory.
Season ticket holder Andy Challenger, 29, said: “Di Matteo would have been my and a lot of other people’s first choice.”
“We didn’t think we could do any worse than Bryan Robson - but we have now,” added John Whiteley.
* Wilson, who has previously managed Hartlepool, MK Dons, Bristol City, Wednesday and Barnsley, left his last role at Swindon in March after a season of struggle.