Billy Sharp has paid tribute to boss Chris Wilder after admitting that the current crop of Sheffield United stars is mentally tougher than the team which flopped in League One last season.
Sharp hit 21 goals last season as United struggled to an 11th-placed finish, which cost Wilder’s predecessor Nigel Adkins his job.
After being confirmed as United’s captain, boyhood Blade Sharp has led the way once more this term, hitting 16 goals already and propelling Wilder’s side into the automatic promotion places.
And, speaking after scoring both goals in Boxing Day’s 2-0 win over Oldham, which sent his side to within a point of League One leaders Scunthorpe, Sharp said: “It’s a completely different set of people here [since last season] and we are obviously mentally tougher as a group.
“That’s what the gaffer has driven into us, that’s the way he is, and the way he wants us to be. We just have to make sure we don’t slip up.
“The gaffer has set us up to pick up results when we don’t play way. I don’t think we played particularly well today, and our quality came through in the last half hour, but we had to make sure we didn’t concede at the other end.”
Sharp’s first goal, a volley across Oldham goalkeeper Connor Ripley, was superb but his second, a driven finish after Leon Clarke had collided with Ripley, was more personally satisfying - his 50th goal in United colours, spread across three spells.