It's not over yet! Chris Wilder and Sheffield United aren't giving up on their play-off dream
Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, believes his team are capable of forcing themselves into the Championship play-offs by winning their remaining three games of the season.
United remain ninth in the table ahead of Saturday’s visit to Birmingham City, only three points behind sixth-placed Millwall, following a 1-1 draw with Neil Harris’ side at Bramall Lane.
Although Wilder, whose side then host Preston North End before travelling to Bristol City on the final day of the campaign, described the result as “another opportunity missed”, he insisted: “I think we can win the last three, yes. If we’re still in the mix, which we will be at Birmingham, then we want to take it to on to Bristol on the final day.
“Coming into this division, into what is a ridiculously unpredictable competition, we are still in their fighting with something to go for. It’s unpredictable because there are clubs who probably have no right, with all due respect, to be anywhere near the Championship conceding last minute equalisers to teams who really should be in the Premier League. You’ve got Burton Albion beating Derby County who, year in year out, are a huge club at this level.”
United, last term’s League One title-winners, appeared on course to end Millwall’s long unbeaten run when Leon Clarke scored during the closing stages of an absorbing match. But, less than two minutes later, the Londoners were level courtesy of Steve Morison’s strike.
Wilder, taking charge of his 100th match since being appointed 23 months ago, claimed the expectation levels on some of the division’s big spending clubs could provide United and their opponents, who were promoted from the third tier via the play-offs, with a psychological edge.
“There’s a lot of pressure on the Derby’s and the Middlesbrough’s of this world,” he added. “So fair play to the Sheffield United’s and the Millwall’s of this world. We’ll keep on going and see if we can get the results. We’re still right in there and won’t be giving up on anything.”
Despite his upbeat message, Wilder was critical of the defending which presented Morison with the opportunity to level and also United’s inability to exploit the openings they created. Jordan Archer, the Millwall goalkeeper, denied John Fleck, Richard Stearman and George Baldock before Clarke pounced while Lee Evans, who had earlier gone close from long-range, saw another attempt acrobatically parried to safety.
“I won’t dress it up,” Wilder said. “That’s how my staff roll and I don’t think the players would expect anything less. But with one home game and two away to go, we are still right in the mix.”