Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder laughed-off claims his players could get distracted by opposition mind games after watching them secure an important victory in the race for promotion from League One.
Wilder’s team moved seven points clear at the top of the table with 12 matches remaining after beating fellow Championship hopefuls Bolton Wanderers last weekend.
Phil Parkinson, Wilder’s counterpart at the Macron Stadium, had insisted beforehand that his side could drive a wedge between United and the home support.
But, speaking after two goals from Billy Sharp condemned the visitors to defeat in front of over 27,000 fans, Wilder said: “I think Phil was maybe thinking of other teams that have played here, the last three or four years, about trying to divide the crowd. That was never going to happen.
“They were never going to unsettle our players, and if you had seen how we have played the last four months - let alone the last three games - we may not have got the results we wanted, but stayed calm and stuck to the process of football, playing how we want to play.”
Sharp took his tally for the season to 23 after scoring a goal in each half; his second coming from the penalty spot following David Wheater’s challenge on substitute Samir Carruthers. With footage emerging of Bolton’s Gary Madine calling United’s captain “a fat little pig” before the game - Parkinson later insisting the former Sheffield Wednesday striker failed to appear due to illness - Sharp could not resist rubbing his belly after edging the hosts in front before doubling their lead during the closing stages.
Parkinson accused both journalists and senior figures at Bramall Lane of exploiting the furore surrounding Madine’s comments - “The Sheffield media probably made more of it than there was so well done to them for that” - and claimed referee Mike Dean had been fooled by Carruthers’ “dive”.
But Wilder, whose squad returns to action at Rochdale on Saturday, struck a more conciliatory tone after Sharp’s efforts saw the visitors slip to fourth behind Scunthorpe and third-placed Fleetwood Town.
“The whole club has got its head down and done the talking on the pitch.,” he said. “I was a bit disappointed first half, I thought we got caught up in the fight with them, exactly how they wanted us to play. It was difficult.
“We had a few words at half-time, calmed ourselves down and I thought second half we completely dominated the game. That’s the way I see it, anyway.
“Other people might see it different but I’m not so sure 27,000 people will see it that different. I thought it was a fully deserved three points and a team, especially second half, that has dismantled a decent side, with a lot of good players, pretty comprehensively.”