Chris Wilder sneaks in a new Sheffield United target, VAR and Sander Berge: The big issues from today's press conference ahead of Tottenham
Chris Wilder was back in front of the media this morning as Sheffield United prepare to face Tottenham on Thursday night.
Here, Danny Hall takes you through the big issues and picks up on a few of the more eyebrow-raising aspects of the press conference.
Don't mention the VAR…
Too late. United were unfortunate to see a goal chalked off at Spurs' stadium earlier in the season, when John Lundstram's big toe was adjudged offside, and Wilder remembers being stood on the touchline "for 10 minutes" while the replays were checked, over and over. It spoke volumes about United's character that, when the goal was eventually ruled out, they recovered from the blow to score again and earn a deserved point thanks to George Baldock's equaliser. They face a different test of mentality now, playing a Premier League clash at home without the Bramall Lane crowd to roar them on, and it will be fascinating to see how they cope with that against the likes of Harry Kane, Son and Co.
You're alright, Jack
Jack O'Connell is back on the grass, according to Wilder, and is continually being assessed ahead of Thursday's game. But the United manager was also full of praise for his replacement, Jack Robinson, who he described as United's best player since returning from lockdown, pound for pound. Although he plays the game in a different way to O'Connell, the former Nottingham Forest man certainly hasn't let anyone down since coming into the side.
And that throw...
He also gives United a useful extra weapon in their arsenal - a booming long throw, which helped set up their goal against the Gunners on Sunday. United are unlikely to abandon all their footballing principles and suddenly become Stoke City II, with Rory Delap-esque throws in the box all game long, but it certainly created a bit of panic in the Arsenal defence because of the low, flat trajectory. Robinson also noticeably forayed further forward against the Gunners and if O'Connell doesn't make it against Spurs, the Blades appear to be in safe hands.
Bash can't bear to look
The centre-half admits he has not yet watched back his miss on Sunday, from Robinson's cross, because he knows he should have done better. Basham also gave away the penalty which led to Arsenal's first goal but, to his credit, didn't shy away and faced the media this morning. He played against Spurs in the League Cup semi-final a while back now, and the fact he is still a Blade now shows he has bounced back from adversity before. No-one, least of all yours truly, would back against him doing so again.
A new target?
Or a bit of psychology? Only Wilder will know, but it was noticeable that, more than once in his interview, he mentioned 'finishing in the top 10' or the top half of the table. United are two points clear of Palace in 11th, with a game in hand, but can also go above Spurs and back into seventh with three points on Thursday night. Is the manager just trying to temper expectations a little? Finishing in the top 10 would have been an unbelievable achievement at the start of the season, but there is still time for United to improve on that even more.
The cold shoulder
Lundstram came off in some discomfort on Sunday with a shoulder injury after an awkward fall following a tackle, and United were this morning waiting on the results of the scans he underwent following the game. But if he is ruled out against Spurs, Sander Berge put in one of his best displays in a Blades shirt on Sunday after replacing him and showed signs that he is starting to adjust to that right-sided central midfield role.