Given that Sheffield United have already booked their place in the Championship next season, Chris Wilder could easily have given today’s League One play-off final the swerve.
But for a whole host of reasons, not least the fact he thinks it will be a pulsating encounter, the 49-year-old plans to be among the crowd as Bradford City and Millwall battle it out for the right to join his team in the second tier next term.
“Some of the teams we’ve seen in the play-offs have been scared to lose,” Wilder said. “They’ve been more bothered about not giving anything away than actually going out there and trying to win and, as a result, ended up doing nothing.
“But that’s not how I see this match unfolding. It’s between two positive teams who have got a good attacking attitude. It could well turn out to be pretty tight but, regardless of how many goals are scored, you know both of them are going to be giving it 100 per cent and a really good go.”
United finished 14 points clear of second-placed Bolton Wanderers and beat both City and Millwall en route to the title last term. Wilder is professionally obliged to attend - “We’ll be facing one of these again soon” - but, having spent 12 months at Valley Parade during his own playing career, the trip to Wembley is part personal too.
“Obviously another Yorkshire club in the division will be good for us,” Wilder continued. “I’ve got a connection with City and so it would be nice to see them go through. Stuart (McCall) is a really good bloke and, if City win, it’s another derby for our fans to enjoy”
“Neil (Harris) at Millwall is a good guy as well,” Wilder added. “He’s someone who likes his players to get on the front foot and also play in the spirit the game should be played in. They’re both going to have a lot of experience out on the pitch and, as we’ve seen in the League Two play-offs, when you’ve got two sides who want to win it makes for a really good game.”
Harris believes losing last year’s showpiece to Barnsley, combined with reaching the later stages of this season’s FA Cup, could tip the balance in Millwall’s favour.
“The big games we’ve had this year, the play-off games and the final last year, and the FA Cup (run to the quarter-finals) this year, Charlton home and away, Bristol Rovers (a must-win to reach the playoffs), two Scunthorpe games (in the play-off semis) set us in really good stead,” he said.
McCall, who could have Alex Gilliead and Matt Kilgallon at his disposal, also welcomes Alex Jones back from injury.
“I’ve got a lot of big decisions to make,” McCall said. “That’s the hard part of being a manager when it comes to games like this.”