Wembley derby dread

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Most of us hereabouts know what we want - and what we definitely don’t!

Both city teams in the Championship and, preferably, neither of them having to turn up at Wembley to get there.

There’s been plenty wrong with Sheffield football in recent times, so let’s join the wider world in celebrating what’s right with it.

The Blades and the Owls (alphabetical order) are heading for the most dramatic climax to a season since the steel city FA Cup semi-final of 1993.

But please don’t let it end up like that. Pray to the play-off gods to spare us a sudden-death promotion decider.

Please let one of them be promoted and enter the other to the lottery, hopefully with a winning ticket.

Let not a pantomime stand in the way of promotion; for one club or both.

Derbies, yes, we love ‘em. But surely at a higher sphere than this.

In the depths of League One, they can be a curse.

Wednesday might not feel that way after taking four of the six points, but United certainly will do.

For more years than anyone cares to recall, derbies in the wider sense have hampered England’s fourth largest city.

Add Huddersfield, Scunthorpe and Chesterfield to this season’s nuisance file. As for next, hopefully one or both of the city clubs will encounter Leeds, Barnsley, maybe Doncaster and possibly Huddersfield again.

No disrespect to any of those clubs; admiration more like, in most cases. But until the natural order of things is restored - the big clubs in the big places and the smaller ones snapping at their heels - Wednesday and United will be dragged down by their prize-scalp status.

As for the question I’m asked every day right now - which of the two will claim second place? - I honestly don’t have a clue.

Even if I knew last night’s result from Bramall Lane (after the presses rolled) I’d be none the wiser.

The only safe guess is that the race between them will go right to the wire.

And keep praying that it won’t be at Wembley!

Seize the moment and enjoy success

Name the former Sheffield Wednesday boss who regrets not savouring his triumphs with more relish?

And which one certainly has no regrets at all on that score?

The first is Howard Wilkinson and the second is Ron Atkinson who sang Frank Sinatra until all hours at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel after the Owls’ 1991 League Cup triumph.

Which leads me to hope that the player who scored the winning goal that day, John Sheridan, made sure his cup runneth over last Sunday night. And, yes, his victorious Chesterfield team as well.

Okay, they were back on dire anti-relegation duty just three days later and by the time you read this you will know whether the Spireites were still flying high or suffering a hangover in their game at Bramall Lane, played after the Telegraph went to press.

Cruel timing in many ways. Celebrations of triumph, entirely proper for Chesterfield’s JT trophy victory over Paolo Di Canio’s Swindon, cannot be postponed and recaptured later. Not with as much pleasure anyway.

Big Ron never even attempted to hold back when faced with the same fixture crush and priority order that has confronted Sheridan.

Wednesday were also back in action just three days after Wembley, held 0-0 by Leicester on an anti-climactic night at Hillsborough amid pressure to win promotion.

So I’m sure Sheridan and his merry men didn’t neglect to do something pretty important last Sunday night and, forgivably, part of Monday morning, too.

As Wilkinson once told me: “If I have one regret it is not enjoying my achievements more than I have done.”

They can be all too fleeting in football.

If Chesterfield seized the moment then who can blame them?

Allen: Why I’ll stand by my man

When it comes to preaching the non-sacking of managers, being bottom of League 1 is not the strongest of platforms. And some might say Dave Allen is not the most convincing of advocates.

Which is why the former Sheffield Wednesday chief - who axed Chris Turner and Paul Sturrock during his Hillsborough chairmanship - is having to fend off further questions about his Chesterfield manager, John Sheridan, despite the club’s Wembley triumph.

On the other hand, there can be no sincerer pledge of support than issuing it from the foot of the table.

“I met John a few weeks ago and told him there was no way we were parting company,” Allen told me this week. “And that applies even if we go down.

“We’re not dead yet, but as our promotion-winning manager last season, he would be the best man to bring us back.

“He and others have made mistakes since then but, as I told him, ‘you won’t do it again, will you?’”

Allen points to Wolves (Mick McCarthy), Doncaster (Sean O’Driscoll) and Rotherham (last season’s firing of Ronnie Moore) as examples of why more patience should be exercised.

But what about his own record?

Has he mellowed with the years?

“The only manager I really sacked was Paul Sturrock and things picked up at Wednesday after that,” he insists.

“In Chris’s case it was more about politcal pressure. Ken Bates was around and things became impossible for everybody.

But it was Chris’s team that won promotion under Paul after he’d brought in players like Brunt, Whelan, Bullen and McGovern.

“That’s why I was really delighted to fix him up with another job at Chesterfield.”

And it was by the hugest irony that chief executive Turner and owner Allen were celebrating together at Wembley last weekend.

As for reunions with Sheridan, none are planned - they’re locked together for the foreseeable future.