Our fans have ‘gone through the mill’ – this is for them, says Blades boss Wilder
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder dedicated the club’s first Premier League win for over 12 years to the supporters.
John Lundstram’s second-half strike sealed a 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace as top-flight football made a long-awaited return to Bramall Lane.
Back in the Premier League for the first time since their relegation in 2007 amid the controversial Carlos Tevez affair, the Blades built on their opening-day draw at Bournemouth with three points on Sunday.
Lundstram fired home the decisive goal after 47 minutes and the majority of the 30,197 crowd responded with a noise to rock the foundations of the world’s oldest professional football stadium.
“I know more than anyone what these supporters have had to go through and what they have been served up and had to deal with,” said Wilder, himself a Sheffield United fan and former player.
“But they kept coming back every week and supporting the team – 22,000 fans when 12th in League One, that’s ridiculous.
“They kept coming for a reason, because it’s their football club. Sometimes these days would have seemed a million miles off, so this is definitely a day for our supporters and one for them to enjoy and stick down in the memory bank.
“They have gone through the mill, these are not glory-hunting supporters. This club can go anywhere at any stage – and it has done. But hopefully now we are in the right direction and everyone has enjoyed today.”
Wilder’s side played with gusto and energy throughout, matching their hard work with some fine football along the way.
Their only real scare came in the opening five minutes when Christian Benteke stung the palms of Dean Henderson with a shot from a tight angle, while Wilfried Zaha was largely anonymous.
“It’s a good day, from my point of view as manager of the football club, how we played today with and without the ball,” said Wilder.
“The biggest thing was managing the game – first home game back in the Premier League after 12 years and the passionate fans and the atmosphere. That was always a given, we had to make sure we married that up with a disciplined performance and a well-balanced performance. I felt we did that.”
Palace have now drawn a blank in both of their matches so far this season, following a goalless draw with Everton.
Zaha was recalled to the starting line-up after starting on the bench last week. But for a couple of ill-advised exchanges with George Baldock, Wilder and the home fans, he was hardly involved.
Asked about Zaha’s performance, Palace boss Roy Hodgson said: “I’m not prepared to discuss individual players and their performances.”
However, Hodgson still believes he has goals in his team and has backed them to break their duck soon.
“We didn’t cause Sheffield United the problems we needed to cause them if we were going to get anything from the game,” said the former England manager.
“How do we change that? You do the same as you always do, and that is keep working at your game. You’ve got to keep making the right movements and make sure we are attacking the right areas and that you are constantly giving people a chance to practise the quality of their passing and crosses.
“There is no magic wand which changes those things. We’ve played two matches now and haven’t scored a goal and, of course, we know you can’t win matches without scoring goals.
“But I believe we have players in the team who are capable of scoring goals, we’ve just got to keep working and keep faith.”