Sheffield United: Ups and downs are par for the course, says Wilder

Sheffield United's Chris Wilder during the League One match at the Valley Stadium, London. Pic David Klein/Sportimage
Sheffield United's Chris Wilder during the League One match at the Valley Stadium, London. Pic David Klein/Sportimage

If he had paused for thought then Chris Wilder might have used Matt Fitzpatrick rather than Rory McIlroy to emphasise his point.

But, as they prepare for tomorrow’s game against Walsall at Bramall Lane, Sheffield United’s players are being urged to follow the Northern Irish golfer’s lead in order to enhance their promotion credentials.

“Over the course of a season, performance-wise, you will see steps forward and you will see steps back,” Wilder said. “Rory McIlroy might not always shoot a 62 but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with his swing. He might wake-up some days feeling a little bit whatever. Over time, though, you know what he can consistently do.”

Wilder’s comments come as United, unbeaten in 15 League One outings after drawing with Charlton Athletic last weekend, finalise their plans for tomorrow’s rearranged fixture with Jon Whitney’s side. The match, United’s seventh outing in only 23 days, is expected to pose another test of his squad’s patience and perseverance after Shrewsbury Town and Bury both parked the bus during recent visits to South Yorkshire.

Although neither of those games produced the flurry of goals many observers expected - Wilder’s players had scored 14 times in the three matches which preceded the clash with Shrewsbury - he insisted the manner in which victory was achieved illustrated their growing maturity before criticising United’s “lack of ruthlessness” at The Valley.

“We asked them to move the ball about, be calm and patient, and they did exactly that,” Wilder said. “When we did that, we had a couple cleared off the line, a few whizz just past the post and a few really good blocks. If I’m honest, I don’t think either was a bad performance. You’ve got to say fair play to the opposition too, , they have come with plans and it’s up to us to try and find a way to unpick them.”

United, who failed to win any of their first five outings this season, are third in the table and searching for an eighth straight league victory at home.

“Earlier on, we didn’t have that ice at the end of games,” Wilder said. “A lot was talked about what happened at the start. Results wise, yes we heaped pressure on ourselves. But, despite what people were saying about everything being shocking, I didn’t think the displays were bad.”