Chris Wilder’s focus is on one thing when he leads his Sheffield United team out to face his former club the Cobblers at Bramall Lane on Saturday - and that is winning three points.
New Year’s Eve will be the first time that Wilder has come up against the club he managed from January, 2014 through to May, 2016 - rescuing Northampton from the oblivion of relegation from the Football League, steering the club through a period of financial turmoil, and winning the Sky Bet League Two title along the way.
But there’s won’t be anything handed out from me and there won’t be anything handed out from them because I want to turn them over and they’ll want to do the same to usSheffield United boss Chris Wilder
A travellling army of 1,500 Cobblers supporters are sure to acknowledge Wilder and assistant Alan Knill’s efforts for their club, but they will turn their attentions to backing their team and current boss Rob Page once the game kicks off - and Wilder, who says he ‘will always’ look out for the Cobblers results, will expect nothing less.
“Northampton are a good solid club,” said Wilder, who took charge of his hometown club just days after leaving his post at Sixfields in May.
“There’s no doubt about it, there’s an affiliation, there can’t not be after two-and-a-half years and I always look for their result.
“But there’s won’t be anything handed out from me and there won’t be anything handed out from them because I want to turn them over and they’ll want to do the same to us.”
Wilder is also a friend of Page, who like the Blades boss lives in Sheffield, and spoke of his admiration for the people behind the scenes at the Cobblers, and in particular their efforts when the club was close to going out of business before the arrival of Kelvin Thomas as chairman.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Rob, I know him pretty well,” said Wilder.
“There’s proper people at board level and to work for two or three months without getting paid shows what their commitment is like.
“They are proper people, proper men and proper professionals.”
But life is all about Sheffield United for Wilder now, and he is delighted with the form his team is in as they reach the turn of the year.
At the halfway point of the campaign, the Blades are second in the league one table, a point behind stuttering Scunthorpe United, but Wilder knows there is a lot of work to do.
“We’d like to think the table is taking shape but there’s a long way to go,” said the United manager.
“We want to get as high as we can as early as we can and stay there.
“This is a really important time for us now, to try and cement our position up there and show that consistency we have of late. We’ve set a high bar and it’s important we keep striving to reach those levels.
“We’re still a relatively new group.
“I still think there’s more to come from us but we are showing good signs so far. That’s got to continue. But there’s producing performances and there’s achieving stuff.
“I don’t want us just to produce performances, I want us to be talked about because we are on the right track to achieve something.”