Warnock insists Blades will not 'do a Sunderland'

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The Independent Football

The Blades secured a return to the top flight for the first time in 12 years when Leeds' 1-1 draw with the champions Reading left the South Yorkshire side 11 points clear of third place with three games left.

Warnock, a life-long Blades fan, has been at Bramall Lane for almost six and a half years, during which time United have suffered a number of near misses, both on automatic promotion and success in the play-offs. Having finally turned a dream into reality, the manager is determined the club's stay in the élite will not be a brief one.

"We would like to stay in the Premier League, that is the next challenge," he said. "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 accepts that his playing staff will have to be strengthened significantly if the Blades are to avoid the fate of Sunderland, who are coming straight back down this 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 joining Portsmouth 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 Saturday at his family property in Cornwall - he was pictured on television driving his vintage tractor - and he went out for what he described as a "take-away kebab" to celebrate United's promotion when the results came through.

Warnock, 57, said he 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 said.

"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 come to the club now and the quality of the youngsters we are bringing in bodes well for the future."

The immediate future at least will be played out in the Premiership, and Warnock, speaking on BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek, said: "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 said he is particularly looking forward to meeting the likes of Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger.

Warnock, who has openly admitted that there are "two managers I cannot stand - in fact I detest" [Stan Ternent and Gary Megson], said he could not wait to meet and take on some of the English game's leading tacticians.

"Most managers I get on well with, have a drink with and shake hands - but that does not sell newspapers," Warnock said.

"I will not have a problem at all in the top flight. They are all well respected."