Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder insists he holds no grudge against Steve Bruce as he prepares to face the manager who released him during his time in charge at Bramall Lane.
Wilder was part of the Blades squad Bruce inherited when the former Manchester United captain took his first steps into management in 1998.
Wilder was allowed to leave on a free transfer at the end of a season that had seen the then 31-year-old spend time out on loan at Northampton, Lincoln and Brighton.
The two men are now friends and ahead of the Blades’ Premier League home game against Bruce’s Newcastle side on Tuesday evening, Wilder spoke of his respect for his former boss.
“I think I’d have moved myself on if I was him as well, as I wasn’t doing enough,” joked Wilder.
“He had a decision to make in the early part of his managerial career and I respect that. I don’t think it’s one that made too many headlines, a 30-year-old getting a free transfer from Sheffield United at that time.
“I never took it personally. I’ve been released and people have made decision on me many times. I’ve always got on well with Steve and looked at it from his point of view.
“I think that’s the good thing about this football club, that everybody that leaves doesn’t really leave on bad terms and the door is always open for them to come back and be involved one way or another, and I think that’s the way it should be.
“I’ll go on record again for the respect I have for Steve. He’s done an outstanding job at a passionate, and not always easy football club to manage, and he’s done that with dignity and yet again they’re going to be a Premier League club next season and they will look for a big finish to this campaign.
“Newcastle have some exciting players and attacking players, and quality right the way through, and Steve has got them at it and playing well. It will be tough for us but it’s up to us to find a way to nullify their threats and try to win the game.”
The Blades have a handful of concerns as they still look for a first Premier League win of the season.
Positive coronavirus tests and injuries have hit Wilder’s squad hard recently as George Baldock, Enda Stevens, Billy Sharp and Phil Jagielka all missed the FA Cup victory against Bristol Rovers on Saturday, while Lys Mousset went off injured at the Memorial Stadium.
Wilder expects all five players to be fit for the home match against Tottenham at the weekend, but he thinks the game at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night will come too soon for most of the quintet. Oli McBurnie is still out.
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