Chris Wilder, as Sheffield United’s unassailable lead at the top of the League One table proves, has barely put a foot wrong since being appointed 11 months ago.
From bold team selections and tactical shifts to persevering with Leon Clarke when many were calling for him to be cast adrift, the 49-year-old has got pretty much every call spot on.
Until, he admits, declaring his team is determined to finish the season not only as champions but also having accumulated 100 points.
“That was probably a mistake,” the United manager acknowledged earlier this week. “Because, if we don’t, then it shouldn’t take the gloss off what these boys have done. With hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned anything about it. You something get carried away in the moment though.”
Not that Wilder’s mea culpa should be interpreted as a signal United are not determined to reach that magical landmark. They enter tomorrow’s game at MK Dons only six shy of their target and knowing that, wins over Robbie Neilson’s side and Chesterfield in nine days time, will see them join a select group of clubs to achieve the feat.
Wilder, however, is adamant that nothing should be allowed to detract from what his squad has achieved en route to the title. It was a theme he returned to during his pre-match media briefing yesterday.
“Every game we are involved in is a big game for us and our supporters. We’ll have seven thousand there and I, personally speaking, would have loved it to have been more. It’s important we carry on in the manner we have all season.”
United travel to Buckinghamshire unbeaten in 15 outings and having scored 12 goals in their last five games. Harry Chapman and Marc McNulty, both unused substitutes during Monday’s 3-0 win over Bradford City, could feature while Stefan Scougall will also hope for a recall. Neilson, who took charge soon after United’s match with Dons in October, has lost only twice at Stadium mk, where United will enjoy a 7,000 strong following, this year.
“You’ll have to wait and see,” Wilder said. “There’s a lot of players who are pushing for places. We’ve got two games to go and we want to finish off on a high.
“Whatever team I pick, I fully expect them to give 100 per cent as they have all season. I’ve got a group of players to pick from and they’ll all be desperate to play. The players who have been involved for the majority of the season will want to play in the two showpiece games. The ones who haven’t played as much but who have travelled about all season will want to play too.”