Sheffield United: '˜Billy Sharp deserves all the credit, not me'
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has refused to take any credit for Billy Sharp's form after watching the centre-forward move to within one goal of becoming the highest scoring Englishman since the turn of the century following his brace against Blackburn Rovers.
Sharp's second-half double saw him equal Rickie Lambert's record of 219 league goals as fourth-placed United, who visit Wigan Athletic on Tuesday, moved to within four points of the Championship's automatic promotion places.
Speaking ahead of the trip to Greater Manchester, the 32-year-old insisted he is now playing the best football of his career after hitting the target 30 times in 61 appearances following Wilder's appointment in May 2016.
But, attributing that run to the player's own "character" and "commitment", Wilder said: "It's down to what Billy is doing, not what we (the coaching staff) are doing. He deserves to take all the credit.
"Billy scores goals, we all know that, but what he brings off the pitch is just as important. He's a great leader in the dressing room, he makes sure things are right, and sets the right example for others to follow."
Sharp embarked upon his third and most successful spell with United at the beginning of the 2015/16 season after being signed by Wilder's predecessor Nigel Adkins. A graduate of the club's Steelphalt Academy youth system, he has also represented the likes of Doncaster Rovers, Nottingham Forest, Leeds and Southampton where he played alongside Lambert.
Asked if he was surprised, given Sharp's prowess, that he has twice been allowed to leave Bramall Lane, Wilder added: "That's not for me to answer, you'd have to ask others about that. What I will say, though, is that in all fairness, he probably had to go elsewhere because for long periods the club wasn't exactly tearing things up unfortunately. When I came in, we were about to start a sixth year in League One and even when we were up in the Premier League, it's not as if we were challenging for Europe or anything like that unfortunately."
Despite seeing Sharp take his tally for the season to 16 before David McGoldrick scored his third goal in four outings towards the end of a 3-0 victory over Rovers, Wilder remains determined to bolster United's attacking options during next month's transfer window. Kieran Dowell, the England under-21 midfielder, arrived on loan from Everton last week.
"If we can get another couple in, that would put us in a really good position," Wilder said.