Sheffield United: 'Not a lot wrong at the Blades,' insists boss Chris Wilder
Five games in, one point on the board and an abundance of frustration.
That’s the condensed verdict of Sheffield United’s League One campaign so far, under new manager - and boyhood Blade - Chris Wilder, who reckons his side aren’t far off where they want to be.
Quite rightly, Wilder points to the fact that United have not been dominated by anyone so far this season. They were victims of their own profligacy and a wonder-goal at Bolton, were shocked by Crewe in the EFL Cup days later and eked out a point from a drab affair at home to Rochdale.
Then came the defensive horror-show at home to Southend, as United imploded and gifted the visitors - then bottom of the table - three goals in 15 painful minutes. They were once again on top at Millwall last Saturday in the first half, and were on course for a well-earned away point when Jack O’Connell decided to inexplicably punch away a cross and Steve Morison gleefully tucked away the resulting 89th-minute penalty.
Wilder is the first to admit that one point from a possible 12, and two league goals all season, is not a good enough return for a club looking to escape the clutches of League One after six seasons.
But he is also far too refreshingly-honest to take positives where there are none, and sees more than a glimmer of hope.
“We haven’t been dominated for a big period of the game by anyone,” Wilder said.
“Especially the two away games against teams who’ll be promotion favourites. We took the game to them and that gives us a bit of belief and heart.
“Tee to green, we’re getting a lot right but our work in both boxes is letting us down. Inbetween, there’s not a lot wrong. That’s not me deflecting, or saying that one point from 12 is good enough, because it isn’t.
“We’ve got to see if the players we’ve brought in are doing enough to stay in the team, if the players who were already here are doing enough and if the ones on the fringes are ready to come in if we need to.
“I’ve got to see if the formation is right and the combinations I put out on the pitch are right. I’ve been doing that constantly and you’ve seen already this season that we have the b*lls to make decisions.
“When it’s not working, you have to find a solution.”
One possible one, Marc McNulty, is out of today’s meeting with Oxford United after damaging a hamstring in training, so Dominic Calvert-Lewin could come into the matchday squad.
“We have the answers, we believe,” Wilder added.
“We just have to stop killing ourselves with the errors. The one at Millwall, we can’t work it out. Nobody knows what’s going through Jack’s head there, and I can’t affect decisions like that - apart from asking ‘If you continue to make them, is there someone else who can step into the team?’
“We have to cut the errors out, and look at everything to get a result.
“We’re here to get results, and no-one understands that more than me.”