Sheffield United: Chris Wilder reveals promotion blueprint for his Blades

Billy Sharp of Sheffield Utd talks to Leon Clarke. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Billy Sharp of Sheffield Utd talks to Leon Clarke. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Chris Wilder has revealed the target he has set his Sheffield United players as they look to end 2016 top of the League One table.

Wilder’s United moved to within a point of League One leaders Scunthorpe by beating Oldham on Boxing Day, and are at home again on New Year’s Eve against Wilder’s former club Northampton.

Victory against the Cobblers, managed by former Blades favourite Rob Page, would take United to 50 points and, if Scunthorpe don’t beat fellow promotion hopefuls Bolton, top of League One.

And Wilder said: “I’m not a massive one for setting the players targets but we said beforehand, let’s try and get to 50 points by the turn of the year.

“We’re on 47 now and at the halfway stage which is good. But we need to want more and we do want more.”

Over 25,000 - the seventh highest crowd in England on Boxing Day - watched as Billy Sharp’s brace eventually broke Oldham’s stubborn resistance, and sealed United’s third straight victory.

“We did that with the help of the supporters,” Wilder added.

“I’m not trying to win friends or influence people when I say this but I do see that belief and connection from the supporters.

“I’ve always said it’s up to us to get them going but today, make no mistake, they helped to get us going as well.

“It was a competitive game which I like. Both teams were having a go with tackles being made and the referee handled the game well. We’ve probably picked up a few bumps and bruises because of that but we’ll be back in training okay I’m sure.”

United again lined up in a 3-5-2 formation against Oldham, but changed throughout with Chris Basham moving into midfield and Leon Clarke coming off the bench to partner Sharp, and play an instrumental role in United’s second.

Caolan Lavery, who was excellent after coming on in United’s controversial victory over Coventry in their last outing, again watched from the bench and Wilder admitted: “I feel a bit gutted for Caolan because he came on at Coventry and did ever so well.

“It’s just that against Oldham, I thought we needed that little bit of strength to hold the ball up was important.

“Not that Caolan can’t do that but it’s an obvious quality of Leon’s. We have to have a change of approach at times, we had to go to the front a bit quicker because we couldn’t play through midfield.

“They, all of the strikers, bring something to the table and they’ll all have big parts to play.”