Jose Mourinho knew how to do it. Arsene Wenger did too.
But identifying the tactics required to combat James Hanson and actually executing them are, Chris Wilder last night admitted, two completely different things.
This afternoon’s match between Sheffield United and Bolton Wanderers sees Hanson, who joined the League One leaders last month, come face to face with the manager who turbo-charged his career. But while Wilder concedes Phil Parkinson knows Hanson better than most following their time at Bradford City, he warned the towering centre-forward could still prove difficult for his opposite number to stop.
“The Bolton manager will know James better than anybody,” Wilder said. “That, though, can go one of two ways.
“What do you do to snuff him out? If you look at the success of Bradford City over the last few years, what player was central to that? Going up (from League Two), (reaching the) play-offs, beating Chelsea in the FA Cup, and reaching the League Cup final where they got past Arsenal on the way.”
Hanson, whose stature masks a deceptively subtle touch, has forged an effective partnership with Billy Sharp since leaving Valley Parade last month. The former Guiseley centre-forward made nearly 200 appearances under Parkinson in West Yorkshire before the latter’s decision to take charge of Wanderers during the close season.
Despite nearly missing last weekend’s draw with Scunthorpe due to a hip complaint which also affected his groin, Hanson made a positive impact as United maintained their five point lead at the top of the table. Wanderers are third.
“We have been delighted with him,” Wilder said. “He missed all training last week, and we chucked him in last Saturday and he gave a really good level of performance.
“If you speak to all our players, and it was interesting listening to a few of the Bradford players, he has impressed everybody with what he does on and off the pitch. Hopefully, he will be a big player for us in the future.”