Chris Wilder will not allow the “great ties” between Sheffield United and AFC Wimbledon to cloud his judgement during tomorrow’s clash between the two clubs.
The United manager, who played under former Dons chief Dave Bassett during his seven year spell at Bramall Lane, described himself as “delighted” by the Londoners’ promotion from League Two last term.
Bassett, the architect of Wimbledon’s notorious Crazy Gang, was responsible for bringing the likes of Kevin Gage, Glyn Hodges and Vinnie Jones to South Yorkshire before parting company with United in 1995.
Wilder, speaking ahead of the match at Kingsmeadow, said: “There are great ties between the two clubs going back to Harry’s days. I’m still in touch with a lot of the lads who came up from Wimbledon at that time or who had been there and later joined us. Many of them are still around here. But if we stroll up and think ‘We are Sheffield United, we’ve just won two games, we get 19,000 or 20,000 every week at home and that’s going to be enough,’ well, we are going to be in for a hell of a shock. Football just doesn’t work like that.”
Although AFC Wimbledon view themselves as a seperate entity to the team which controversially relocated to Milton Keynes over a decade years ago, Wilder warned they share many of their ancestors’ characteristics after climbing from the Combined Counties League to League One in just 13 seasons.
“There’s a spirit at Wimbledon and (manager) Neil (Ardley) and his players epitomise that,” he said. “I think the people down there will look at us with a bit of a connection and the people from here will be delighted with their progression. I’m delighted to see them back. I was present at the play-off final and was chuffed to bits for them. “It’s not a fairytale what’s happened though. It’s happened through hard work and graft.”