Sheffield United: Mutual love as Wilder and McCall tip each other for promotion

Bradford boss ' and former Blade ' Stuart McCall embraces Billy Sharp after the final whistle
Bradford boss ' and former Blade ' Stuart McCall embraces Billy Sharp after the final whistle

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder and Bradford City counterpart Stuart McCall tipped each other to win promotion this season following a thrilling Yorkshire derby at Valley Parade.

Wilder, whose side climbed to third in the League One table after Saturday’s 3-3 draw, described City as ‘by far and away’ the best team United have faced since August while McCall insisted ‘anyone who finishes above’ the visitors will reach the Championship next term.

United led twice through Billy Sharp before Chris Basham ensured the match finished all-square after Timothee Dieng had fired City in front during the closing stages.

Wilder said: “I’m not going to comment on us because there’s a long way to go.

“I’ll talk about Bradford City. They’ve got a lot of good players and have a lot of spirit about them. I’ll leave Stuart to talk about us.

“They are by far and away the best team we have played this season and so, to come away against a team like that who are in form, we’ll take the point.

“There were a lot of good players on show and we’ve set our stall out to win games.

“But look at the opposition and the quality they’ve got. They came from behind, like we did, so they’ve clearly got character as well.”

“I’m not going to set a team up to defend,” Wilder added. “We have players who can defend but there’s a lot who want to go the other way, on both teams. Both sets of supporters are passionate about their teams. They gave their team a lift and ours gave us a massive lift.”

McCall, a former United player, admitted he had “almost clapped” Sharp’s first goal before revealing City tried to hijack Caolan Lavery’s move to Bramall Lane from Sheffield Wednesday two months ago. Billy Clarke and Jordy Huwula were also on target for second-placed City while United, now unbeaten in 10 league outings, climbed to third when Basham pounced.

“Every team has their ups and downs but if Sheffield United keep that up, which I’m sure they will, any team that finishes above them will get promoted,” McCall said. “Billy Sharp is flying at the moment. Our lads won’t play up against a better striker than that, he’s in absolute top form. I almost clapped because it’s an outstanding pass and a great header by Sharp. I didn’t but I almost did! Look through all the side, there are a lot of good players who’ve played at Championship level.”

“(Paul) Coutts and (John) Fleck are obviously top footballers and have dominated the ball in past games because teams have sat off them,” McCall added. “We tried to get at them and that will give us great belief going forward.”