Sheffield United: '˜My players care about our club' says Chris Wilder

Jose Mourinho might harbour reservations about their namesakes from Manchester but, when the question was posed about Sheffield United's players, it drew a forthright response from Chris Wilder.

Tuesday, 2nd October 2018, 5:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd October 2018, 5:48 pm
Sheffield United's players are all committed to the club, says manager Chris Wilder

"These lads care," he replied. "Don't worry about that. Everyone is 'all in' here. If you look at sides who struggle, they don't have the same thing. With us, if you're not, you're out."

The same can not be said for every other club, with many supporters suspecting footballers are now more committed to collecting social media 'likes' than actual silverware.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

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Given events at Old Trafford, where the desire of Manchester United's squad has been publicly challenged by Mourinho, it seems some managers share exactly the same concerns. Although Wilder would trade many of his problems for those taxing the Portuguese, doubts about character is not one of them.

Indeed following Saturday's victory over Millwall, which saw them claim their second last gasp winner in the space of a week, he delivered a long and impassioned monologue about his team's determination.

In response, it is worth noting, to a query about an unused substitute. So why are those tasked with leading United out of the Championship different to many of their peers? Wilder offered a couple of different suggestions. But one he ventured, describing a recent brainstorming session, is perhaps the most important of them all.

"We're a player led group and that gives them ownership, it gives them more responsibility for what we do. Obviously decisions have to be made and directions have to be taken, it's not a free for all. But we all have an interest in trying to get better as a group.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho

"Yes, they have a voice. There's a great respect from myself to the players, be it for what they've done over the last two years or elsewhere to get here.

"We had a team meeting the other day and David McGoldrick was quite vocal. I thought 'brilliant' because why shouldn't our younger players listen and learn to someone who has done what he's done and with his experience."

Ironically, given Mourinho's concerns about Manchester United's character, a player he allowed to depart on loan is now impressing at Bramall Lane. Goalkeeper Dean Henderson has quickly made his presence felt on the pitch and, Wilder revealed, off it as well.

"He's the most vocal I've had in three years, by a country mile," he continued. "But we knew that. Dean's got a good personality.

Sheffield United return to action against Blackburn Rovers tomorrow night

'He's as daft as a brush, he's a character but he's really, really committed.'

"There are times when you think someone won't fit into what you're about," Wilder added. "But we aren't scared of having big personalities here. If we feel they're right, if they move us forward, we aren't afraid to take them on.

'Without naming names, we've got a few here who might have been difficult to handle elsewhere but who have been brilliant, who have done great, for us here.

"There's enough in our group who want to do well and who won't stand for others to break the chain." 

Those qualities will need to be in evidence again tomorrow when United, who moved to within a point of the leaders after winning at The Den, visit Blackburn Rovers. Tony Mowbray's side, promoted from League One last season, have made an encouraging start to life back in the second tier and enter the game unbeaten at home this term.

"I think it comes from the experience of working with myself and the staff, how we are with them," Wilder said. "They have that permission to offer an opinion, whether they've been here for a while or just come in.

"Sometimes things come to a natural end, from either our point of view or the player themselves. But I think, if you take Matty Done, Sparky McNulty or even Stefan Scougall, towards the end of his time here, they'll go away with good memories because they were treated well."

Centre-half Darragh Lenihan and his team mate Kasey Palmer, on loan from Chelsea, are both well known to Wilder and his staff having both been viewed as potential transfer targets within the past 12 months. Lenihan was the subject of particular interest, with United known to have made at least one concrete approach for the 24-year-old. But with John Egan growing in stature on a game by game basis, Wilder no longer views defence as an area of concern.

"We've got lads pushing," he said. "That's the position we wanted to be in, with people competing in every position.'