He is a measure of consistency, throughout the frustrating lows and the elating highs.
“Judge us after 10 games” has been the mantra for Chris Wilder, ever since his first campaign in charge of Sheffield United began back in August.
Wilder knows that seasons are decided by 46-game seasons, not five-game winless runs or four victories on the spin. But United’s tenth League One game of the season came and went on Tuesday night, at home to Bristol Rovers, and a battling 1-0 victory said a lot about the character and ability of his side.
Rovers came to Sheffield in a good run of form themselves, and started strongly before Harry Chapman, of all players, rose highest in the box to head United ahead.
Jermaine Easter lost his head and was sent off for a mid-air collision with Jack O’Connell, but Rovers still forced the issue and United survived a nervy last few moments to secure a win that sees them sixth in the League One table.
“Bristol Rovers are a good team and, as you could see out there,they’ll go away from home and cause a lot of teams problems,” Wilder said.
“There were things we could have done better, as I’ve said.
“I don’t think we passed the ball in midfield as well as we can do or have done recently. But you’ve also got to give credit where it’s due.
“To the opposition and our lads as well. We showed other characteristics that we want to see and, in the end, I thought it was a deserved three points. That’s 10 games gone now and everyone is looking for that consistency.”
Wilder, who could have defenders Jake Wright and James Wilson available for Saturday’s trip to Fleetwood, will have a call to make over Stefan Scougall, who caught the eye against Rovers but was withdrawn in the second half after feeling unwell.
“Stefan is like a bottle of pop,” Wilder said, “but you could tell he wasn’t himself.
“He always gives everything and deserved his chance. But that usual zip he has wasn’t quite there we didn’t think.
“We were always going to make the change because we’d asked him at half-time ifeverything was okay and he said he just didn’t feel that well.”
On Chapman, Wilder added: “Harry has been patient. He’s come from a big Premier League club and sometimes it can take a little while to find your feet in those situations. It was a really well taken goal... and not a bad celebration.”