Sheffield United: Chris Wilder vows to continue the positive approach in Blades' promotion push
He's had to deal with wonder-goals, poor decisions and what he still believes was a poor refereeing decision, but Chris Wilder has steadfastly refused to stray from his key belief.
“We’ll always be positive in everything we do,” the Sheffield United manager insisted ahead of his side’s trip to Preston this afternoon.
“That’s the mindset we want, and I am pleased that other people are seeing it.
“My players work hard, and have that work ethic that you want to see. I think they’re playing some excellent stuff, and their attitude is right too.
“Add the two together and that’s why we’ll be okay.”
United will almost certainly “be okay” in terms of their Championship status - they require just 13 more points for the typically-accepted 50-point survival mark, with 25 games remaining - but their blistering start to life in the second tier following promotion last season has realigned expectations somewhat, at least on the Bramall Lane terraces.
But, for some of the more realistic supporters at least, United’s mini-run of one point from four games - against Fulham, Birmingham, Millwall and Bristol City - has served as a reminder that this division is incredibly competitive and without Paul Coutts, their talisman missing the rest of the season with a broken leg, their task became a whole lot more difficult.
That is not to write off United’s chances of promotion, whatsoever. As Wilder says elsewhere on these pages, his side remain very much in the hunt and seeing his side tumble to sixth, after reaching the automatic promotion places and even briefly going top of the table, shows just how quickly fortunes can change for clubs.
Just as they did last Friday, when John Fleck - who became, in Coutts’ absence, the player United could barely do without - saw red for a rash challenge on Korey Smith, and subsequently misses three games.
Wilder defended his man in his post-match press conference - “If you can’t put tackles in, the game’s gone and we don’t want that to happen,” he said - and remained staunch in his support earlier this week, when he met the media once more at United’s training ground.
“We just have to get over Flecky,” he said.
“We’ve got a couple of options. We can move people about or bring somebody in. We just get on with it. If you listen to the TV commentator, he wasn’t shouting and bawling [about the tackle]. I don’t think if he’d seen yellow anyone would have complained.
“It’s disappointing for John. He’s an important part of our group so to miss him is disappointing. But we’ll battle on. The one thing these lads have shown over the last 18 months is to overcome obstacles and situations.
“Of course, I’d rather not be dealing with it. But we will. We’re all frustrated with it because I honestly don’t believe he went out to nail the lad and that’s a view backed up by a few on the opposition bench.”
As far as options go, Wilder could start Samir Carruthers in Fleck’s place while Chris Basham could step up from centre-half, with Cameron Carter-Vickers recalled in his place.
One thing’s for sure; Wilder will be positive.
“We’ve just got to marry good performances with the correct result,” he said.
“Always, first and foremost, we look at ourselves and what we can do. We’re still in it, though, and that pleases me.”