Chris Wilder refused to gloss over Sheffield United’s shortcomings during Saturday’s draw with Rochdale.
But, after watching Billy Sharp’s late goal secure their first point of their new League One season,insisted significant progress has still been made following his appointment in May.
United finished 11th in the table, 21 points behind champions Wigan Athletic, under Wilder’s predecessor Nigel Adkins last term.
Although the 48-year-old acknowledged “there is still a long way to go” before his team begins firing on all cylinders, Wilder insisted the manner of their comeback against Keith Hill’s side vindicates the decision to overhaul Bramall Lane’s first team squad during the close season.
“I think we’ve seen many a game here before where that would have gone on to be a 2-0 or a 3-0 defeat,” he said.
“Where the opposition just come in and end up strolling away with a result. But the lads didn’t give up and that’s good because it’s one of the basics of a strong team.
There were only eight minutes of normal time remaining when Sharp, the United captain, cancelled-out Andy Cannon’s opener for the visitors.
Wilder admitted their performance had fallen short in several key areas but, after producing more convincing displays against Bolton Wanderers and Crewe Alexandra only to lose both games, he added: “Yes, there’s going to be chat about whether we deserved to win or not. That’s exactly the same when everyone was talking about whether we deserved to win those two.
“One of the things that’s tough at the moment is that we don’t have much time on the training ground. We missed a day in the week, through our own fault by not putting away Crewe in the (EFL) cup. But you can’t get away from the fact that time on the training ground is very important with regards to putting the pieces of the jigsaw in place.”
Wilder, who handed a debut to new loan signing Harry Chapman after the break, described the point United secured against Rochdale as “something on which to build” ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with Southend.
“We didn’t get it wide enough, especially after the first half an hour, and we still aren’t showing that little bit of quality which puts teams to bed,” he said.
“But that, the bit of composure, will come.”