Alan Biggs Sheffield United column: Why Blades v Leeds game at Bramall Lane has all hallmarks of a classic

David McGoldrick of Sheffield United in action during the 3-2 win at Brentford
David McGoldrick of Sheffield United in action during the 3-2 win at Brentford

Sheffield United v Leeds United is what I’d call the “Max Match.” Surely no two managers in the Championship get more out of their players than Chris Wilder and Marcelo Bielsa.

None demand more, in terms of commitment with and without the ball, than the bosses of Elland Road and Bramall Lane, where their sides meet on Saturday lunchtime.

It’s not only to do with what they get out of their teams in points – even though Leeds are second and the Blades have a chance to leapfrog their Yorkshire rivals.

This meeting could also hit the maximum in terms of entertainment if the style and approach of the two bosses is any guide.

Football goes in cycles but the current refreshing trend to attack and entertain is embodied by both Wilder and Bielsa. Neither depend on costly, prestige signings in order to practice what they preach.

Contrary to some expections, Bielsa looked to slim down his squad rather than expensively expand it after the charismatic Argentine became the managerial capture of last summer.

With much of the same squad, Leeds are a team transformed. There is such a positive energy and vibe about the place.

Just as there is at Bramall Lane, of course, where Wilder also believes too much choice can clutter thinking. He had just enough to goad a thrilling 3-2 win at Brentford after a fortunate (for once) 2-2 draw with Rotherham.

Not that Saturday’s rival managers come across as similar in personality. Bielsa can be philosophical and introspective, not a fist-shaker. Wilder wears heart proudly on sleeve.

But what they share in common is two sides who won’t settle for a draw in a game that can be won. The mindset is ultra-positive.

Resolve to attack can be a total team thing. Bielsa has players in all positions surging forward once possession is won.

And we know that Bramall Lane is the home of the overlapping centre back.

But both sets of players expend as much energy when they don’t have possession.

Leeds tend to swarm the player on the ball (the Blades will have to move it around swiftly and not over-rely on Mark Duffy) while Wilder’s men defend and ball-hunt from the front.

Duffy will surely play, although it was terrific to see the Blades find a way to win – and well – without him at Brentford while the creator-in-chief remained on the bench.

Saturday has the hallmarks of a classic. Sometimes the chemistry doesn’t mix as well as you imagine. But I’d be surprised if this cocktail falls flat.

That’s mainly because neither manager is ever ready to settle for some sort of sterile stalemate, no matter the opposition.

Around both camps, the question is the same: can they last the pace – at their pace – across the full season? The one certainty is they will try.