Sheffield United: The one thing Chris Wilder refused to discuss ahead of Saturday's trip to Derby County
It quickly became obvious, as he addressed the region's journalists during today's pre-match press conference, that Chris Wilder was prepared to discuss pretty much every subject relating to Sheffield United except one.
International calls-ups were debated. His opposite number too. But when conversation turned to the Championship table, and United's position at the summit, Wilder steered it elsewhere.
"We're not looking ahead," he insisted. "We're not thinking in blocks or anything like that.
"All we want to keep doing is accumulating points. Our focus, honestly, does not go beyond the next game."
And that, as Wilder was keen to stress, is expected to test United's character and calibre. Derby County, managed by serial trophy winner Frank Lampard, have made a solid if unspectacular start under the former Chelsea midfielder.
But Wilder suspects, given the wealth of talent at their disposal, tomorrow's opponents could prove United's challenge of the season so far.Â
"Derby will be saying exactly the same as us," the United manager continued, "That it's 12 games in, that there's a long way to go. We've done well so far, we're pleased with the boys. Mind you, if we don't keep it going, if we don't keep taking things on a game by game basis, then it won't count for anything will it. We've got to keep doing what we're doing, stick with the same approach."
Wilder, speaking inside the Steelphalt Academy's media suite, confirmed that extends to training sessions too. When United returned to action following the last month's international break, and were beaten by Bristol City, the 51-year-old suggested they would tweak their schedule to avoid a repeat.
But with the likes of Oliver Norwood, Kieron Freeman and John Egan reporting back fit and healthy after being called-up by their countries, Wilder said: "We didn't change anything, we've not changed anything. We've been doing the same things."
Despite granting those who remained in South Yorkshire several days off, Wilder and his staff were encouraged by the fact none of them jetted away on family holidays or arranged a short break with their mates. It is, a source close to the squad insisted last night, a sign they are "totally committed" to achieving promotion.
"This is going to be a tough game," Wilder said. "As tough as any of our previous three, that's for sure."
United travel to Pride Park searching for their fifth straight league win but knowing County are strong at home.
"Sheffield United are a great example of a team that has a certain way of playing and has been doing it for years now," Lampard, five months into his first managerial positing, said. "We are more of a work in progress - nine new players, a lot of youth and a change in the way we are playing.Â
"They are playing fantastically well. They've got a great manager and great style of play. Their brand of football has been brilliant and they are top on merit. They will come here full of confidence."