Chris Wilder lauds Sheffield United's evolution ahead of Premier League return to Bramall Lane
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Last Updated: 16/08/19 12:07pm
Chris Wilder says the evolution at Sheffield United during his tenure is "incredible" as he prepares for the club's first home Premier League game in 12 years.
The former Blades player took charge at Bramall Lane in 2016 and has led them to two promotions since then, with Crystal Palace the visitors on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
Wilder, whose side claimed a late point against Bournemouth in their opening top-flight fixture, is relishing the opportunity for the club to challenge themselves against the very best.
"I don't really want to keep looking back and going on but we were six years outside the Championship. Then all of a sudden in the space of two years we are in the Premier League," Wilder said.
We are favourites to go down and by a long way. I get that.
"We are not a team that has been knocking on the door of the Premier League for four, five and six years.
"We haven't been a Wolves that set themselves up to be a mid-table Premier League team because that is basically what they did and then added off the back of that."
The Blades are viewed as strong favourites to make an immediate return to the Championship and, despite acknowledging that as a natural belief, Wilder remains undaunted.
"The pace of the journey is incredible. Six years in League One to then all of a sudden being in the Premier League," the 51-year-old said.
Sheff Utd vs C Palace
August 18, 2019, 1:00pm
"When people talk about being favourites to go down, I should imagine we are one of the biggest favourites in a number of years. It is not an issue with us.
"The acceleration of where we have gone from - 12th in League One in the space of three or four years to at the moment in the top 10 of the Premier League has been incredible.
"We are favourites to go down and by a long way. I get that. We have to use everything we have got to survive and pick points up."
Wilder took charge following the sacking of Nigel Adkins and has spoken about the disharmony present within the club and how he has worked to rediscover a strong mutual backing between players and fans alike.
"When I came back to the club the connection between the supporters and the players was at an all-time low. There wasn't a connection," the Blades boss added.
"That was the biggest thing I had to do and try to reconnect every part of the football club. The biggest one was the one with the supporters and the players.
"It's a powerful club when it is together and we have certainly brought that back."
Fellow life-long Blades supporter and club captain Billy Sharp came off the bench to score the equaliser against Bournemouth last weekend and Wilder is determined to make their home ground a fortress.
"We have to make Bramall Lane one of the most difficult places for nay team to come and get a result," he said.
"But the good thing is [the fans] are realistic. They totally understand the journey we have been on.
"They will be 100 per cent on our side - more than ever I believe.
"They will give the players their backing more than they have given possibly to any team that has played for Sheffield United in the past 20-25 years. If they do that things can happen."