Sheffield United and West Ham fans should be able to have a beer together, Blades manager Chris Wilder has said before the sides meet on Saturday.
It is the first league meeting between the clubs since the 2006-07 season when Sheffield United were controversially relegated as the Hammers stayed up. Carlos Tevez scored West Ham’s winner on the final day but a tribunal later ruled the Argentine was ineligible. Wilder, a Blades fan, said it is time for his club to “look forward”.
“Many years have passed since it all happened and I actually have a big admiration for West Ham with the way they’ve gone about it in the past,” Wilder said. “I think they are a very similar club to Sheffield United – a working-class club from the east end of London and the supporters want to see them play good football and work hard.
“I think a West Ham fan could have a beer with a Sheffield United fan and they’d have a lot to talk about – maybe they should, I don’t know. But there are a few clubs whose fans maybe you wouldn’t sit down and have a beer with. I’ll leave you to fill the blanks in!”
On the final day of the season in 2007, a 2-1 home defeat to Wigan together with West Ham’s victory over champions Manchester United, where Tevez scored the winning goal, saved the Hammers from relegation and sent Sheffield United down on goal difference.
Tevez was found to have been ineligible due to third-party ownership but West Ham were fined £5.5m rather than being docked points, although they paid £20m in compensation.
The current campaign is the Blades’ first back in the Premier League since the affair, having spent six seasons of the 12-year absence in League One.
“It was a difficult period when it happened, and there’s been some lows since, but I think it is a time for us to look forward now and create new memories, especially for a younger generation of supporters to encourage them to follow us.,” Wilder added. “Being in the Premier League will obviously help that and over the last three years the players have created many memories that we can look back on in a few years – the younger generation as well as the older generation who can remember some not so good times. West Ham is the next game, the next step, for us in our aim of staying in this division now that we have got back here.”