Respect, ruthlessness and, afterwards, absolutely no remorse.
Three things Chris Wilder wants Sheffield United to demonstrate when they return to League One action against Peterborough this afternoon.
“The team is playing with a swagger and a confidence,” he said. “But I understand that, in this game, when you think you’ve made it something smacks you right between the eyes. They are a very dangerous team, they can hurt you, But we believe we’ve got the players to hurt them too. Our challenge is to show all the supporters who haven’t seen us on the road or who didn’t see us on the box at Gillingham what we’re all about.”
What United are ‘all about’ at the moment is winning football matches having beaten Oxford and also AFC Wimbledon en route to today’s League One game. Wilder, though, appreciates how quickly fortunes can change. Which, when he outlined his approach during the club’s pre-match media conference on Thursday morning, explained the call for “belief” not “arrogance.”
“Listen, we can win this game,” Wilder continued. “But we also understand that they can win it too. So we respect the opposition, as always, and look for ways to hurt them. There’s always got to be that balance between combating the threats you are going to face and focusing on what we do well. Because, if we ignore the other team’s strengths, it can make it difficult to play your own game.”
Peterborough’s forte is undoubtedly attacking and they travel north having scored 20 goals in just 10 outings so far this term. United, by contrast, have hit the target on only 10 occasions. Although, after a switch of formation, half of those have come in their last two matches. Fears Wilder could be forced to change the dynamic of his starting eleven receded yesterday when Chris Basham received the all-clear after injuring a hip at Kingsmeadow. But, as the United manager acknowledged, his replacement John Fleck pressed his own case for a recall.
“The manager (Grant McCann) instils a calmness into them,” Wilder said. “They like to keep possession and we have to counter that. It’s a different test to Wimbledon and we’ll have to play well again. I don’t want the players to be arrogant but they have to believe in themselves. And I think they do. They want to kick-on, the supporters do and the same goes for me as well.”