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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 16, 2006

Blades aim to follow lead of West Ham and Wigan

Neil Warnock is convinced Sheffield United can follow the example of Wigan and West Ham to make an impact on the Premiership next season.

The Blades secured a return to the top flight for the first time in 12 years when Leeds' 1-1 draw with Coca-Cola Football League champions Reading left the south Yorkshire club 11 points clear of third place with only three games remaining.

Warnock is a life-long fan and has been at the helm for almost six-and-a-half years, during which time Sheffield United have seen so many near misses both to automatic promotion and play-off glory.

But having finally turned the dream into reality, the Blades boss is determined the club's stay among the elite sides of English football will not be an all-too-brief one.

'We would like to stay in the Premier League, that is the next best challenge,' he declared. 'You have got West Ham and Wigan with Paul Jewell showing everyone what can be done.

'They have been really flying the flag for the Championship teams.'

Warnock, though, accepts the playing staff will have to be strengthened significantly if the Blades are to avoid following Sunderland straight back down this time next year.

'All the teams who have gone up signed six or seven players, and we are going to be no different,' said Warnock, who was close to taking on the Portsmouth job earlier in the season.

'It is going to be different having such a large squad, but it is something you have got to get used to and try to use.'

Warnock spent yesterday at his family property in Devon and went out for a 'take-away kebab' to celebrate United's promotion when the results came through.

The 57-year-old believes the long-term future of the club is a positive one.

'We have always had near misses, and the Blades fans are always pretty pessimistic - the glass is always half-empty in Sheffield,' he quipped. 'We have gradually built things up and are one of the most progressive clubs off the field as well as on it.

'People want to club to the club now and the quality of the youngsters we are bringing in bodes well for the future.'

Warnock added on BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: 'It is just amazing knowing we are going to be playing at places like Arsenal's new stadium and it will be nice for the players to be on Match of the Day.

'And we have got one or two players who could grace the top teams as well.'

Warnock is looking forward to locking horns with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger next season.

The United boss openly admits there are 'two managers I cannot stand - in fact I detest' (Stan Ternent and Gary Megson) - but cannot wait to take on some of the top tacticians in the game.

Warnock said: 'Most managers I get on well with, have a drink with and shake hands - but that does not sell newspapers. I will not have a problem at all in the top flight. They are all well respected.'