Pace key to derby success

Sheffield Wednesday v Chesterfield...GOAL...Ben Marshall celebrates his goal and his teams third
Sheffield Wednesday v Chesterfield...GOAL...Ben Marshall celebrates his goal and his teams third

Not a derby prediction but an opinion bordering on a statement of fact: United have a stronger looking squad than Wednesday.

There, said it. And after that, better not to stick your neck out any further!

Injuries apart, United’s pool is certainly deeper and costs more in wages.

But it doesn’t necessarily mean, of course, that United will beat Wednesday on Sunday. And that’s the beauty of these occasions.

The Owls’ surge to second place - now five points in front of their rivals - and the Blades’ dip doesn’t mean much either. It really is more like a cup tie than a league match and, as such, no result would surprise. Well, just one perhaps - a comfortable win for either side.

Beyond that, factors like form, quality, depth of squad are frail guidelines. And it’s unkown territory even for Danny Wilson and Gary Megson; a Sheffield derby first as managers, Megson’s first of any sort. But there is one facet of the game where, not for the first time in recent years, S6 appears to have the edge. There is pace in the team, something S2 has lacked. Ben Marshall is a torpedo down either flank and, of course, there is Jermaine Johnson, scourge of United in the past, waiting in the wings.

That’s why Wilson’s swoop for Blackpool flyer Matt Phillips is timely - but will he tune in to this game in time?

Throw in the greater pressure on the Blades, both as the home team and also needing to play catch-up, and it’s easy to see why the tight unit licked into shape by Megson is strongly fancied to prevail.Whereas Wilson appears to have players of higher calibre in midfield and attack - men who have proven experience higher up the scale - Wednesday are finely tuned at League One level having recruited mostly from the lower leagues.

And in Marshall, David McGoldrick, David Prutton and Danny Batth, they have some useful talent from higher up.

Then again, fiercely proud Blades like Stephen Quinn, Richard Cresswell and fit-again Nick Montgomery - surely a key performer on Sunday - will have something to say about all of this.

One more powerful dynamic is the difference over what result will be considered acceptable in either camp. Wednesday won’t baulk at a draw; United have to look for the win for reasons far greater than local pride. I think that will have a key bearing on the contest.

But safest to say, in the best boring fashion, that it could go either way. One more thing, though.

The Danny Wilson hype is just part of the game we play; inevitable but otherwise irrelevant. Didn’t Gary Megson once compete for the Bramall Lane job, pre-Neil Warnock?

Both are professional football managers, nothing more and nothing less.

The fact that Wilson happens to be the only man to have bossed both Sheffield clubs naturally draws attention, but it is purely incidental.

And whatever the result on Sunday, it should not cloud anyone’s judgment on a manager who needs a minimum two-season run on taking the Blades back to the Championship against the financial tide.