Sheffield United: Chris Wilder’s favourite moment reveals everything about his team’s approach

Conor Washington's desire delighted his manager
Conor Washington's desire delighted his manager

Asked to pick his favourite moment of last weekend's victory over Aston Villa, Chris Wilder's response revealed everything about Sheffield United's approach.

Rather than Jack O'Connell's early finish or Oliver Norwood's audacious strike from near the touchline, the manager chose Conor Washington's sprint for a rare loose ball during the closing stages of what proved to be a deserved 4-1 win.

It confirmed, despite signing a flurry of technically accomplished players, United are still being powered by old fashioned values.

"For me, the best bit of the game was when we cleared one down the line and Conor went after it," Wilder remembered. "He carried on going and kept it in. I absolutely loved that."

United, third in the Championship and on a four match winning streak, have entered the international break in encouraging shape after what Wilder describes as an "excellent" transfer window. Oliver Norwood, signed on a loan to buy basis from Brighton and Hove Albion, has impressed with his passing. Washington, his Northern Ireland colleague, brings pace, power and much more skill than his frame would suggest. With Ben Woodburn and Marvin Johnson also among those to arrive, United's coaching staff have expanded the skill set of Bramall Lane's first team squad. But, after investigating the personality of every new recruit before processing their deals, Wilder insists they are bound together by one common thread.

"After doing the business that we've done, I think we're nicely balanced," he said. "You've got to be flexible in this division and I think we're better equipped to be that now.
"But we're a down-to-earth football club and we don't get ahead of ourselves. Everyone who comes in, everybody who is already here, is ready to work hard and put their bodies on the line. The ugly things, the bits and pieces of the game that often go unnoticed by people but not by us, are often the most important parts."

Chris Wilder is pleased with his team's work ethic

Chris Wilder is pleased with his team's work ethic

"I like to say 'there's no days off if you want success' and so that is the same in the week to," Wilder continued. "You've got to put it in day in and day out. The lads here are willing to do that."

Despite the emphasis on hard graft, United are showing more guile this season too.

"We've been scoring goals at important times," Wilder, tracing his mind back to last month's triumph at Bolton Wanderers, said. "We did there there and then doubled it up which gave them a real problem.

"There were some really good performances out there but the best thing for me was the attitude. We had to turn up and make sure we played our game, not their game, and drop on second balls, We did that, got our rewards, and then carried it on (against Villa)."

"It was great to get the first clean sheet (of the season) there at Bolton," Wilder added. "The boys were prepared to put their bodies on the line. You can't help balls coming into your box at times, especially against physical lads. It's how you deal with it that counts in those situations. When we went there the season before, even though we won we were just heading them away for them to come straight back. This time, we were a little bit more intelligent with how we went about it."

United return to action at Bristol City next weekend, where Lee Johnson's sixth-placed side are also in good form.

"The desire has to be to turn it from four to five," Wilder said. "But every match is tough and presents its own challenges. You can't take anything for granted which is why you've got to work."