SHEFFIELD UNITED: Blades roll back the years in defence

Fearsome competitor: Sheffield United defender Neill Collins enjoys keeping another clean sheet.                        Picture: martyn harrison
Fearsome competitor: Sheffield United defender Neill Collins enjoys keeping another clean sheet. Picture: martyn harrison
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SHEFFIELD United’s back four have struck a blow for “good old fashioned defending,” manager Danny Wilson insisted ahead of tomorrow’s visit to MK Dons.

United, who are second in the table following Tuesday’s goalless draw with Swindon, travel to Buckinghamshire searching for their ninth clean sheet of the competition so far this term and unbeaten over 90 minutes since last season’s meeting with Karl Robinson’s side.

Neill Collins’ return from injury has further strengthened a rearguard anchored by Harry Maguire and Matt Hill in his absence while Tony McMahon, the former Middlesbrough full-back, was yesterday praised for his “important” contribution.

Wilson, acknowledging players are now judged on their ability to create as well as prevent goals, said: “These days everyone wants to be Beckenbauer. They want to be spraying passes around all over but then, when they come up against a team that keeps stuffing long balls down their throats, they can’t cope.

“That’s why I’m delighted I’ve got lads here who love defending. They love doing the unglamorous part of the job. They’ll put their head in where it hurts during matches and they do it in training too. It’s just what they do.

“When Neill is training and a goal is let in he goes spare,” Wilson added. “He turns the air blue because it means that much to him.”

United’s new found solidity, however, has come at a price with Wilson’s charges losing some of the attacking flair which characterised their performances during his first campaign at the helm.

Denying he took a conscious decision to adopt a different approach following the departure of players such as Matthew Lowton, Wilson said: “The dynamics of the team have changed with the people in it.

“Tony isn’t as good going forward as Matty but he’s a better defender. Different people have different qualities and you play to them.”