Chris Wilder tells Sheffield United to 'enjoy' the pressure of a Premier League survival battle
Chris Wilder has insisted Sheffield United must try and embrace the pressure of their battle for Premier League survival, predicting that character rather than tactical acumen will ultimately decide the outcome of tomorrow’s showdown against fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion.
United travel to The Hawthorns at the bottom of the table, after suffering an eighth defeat in nine outings so far this season when they were beaten by West Ham last weekend.
Slaven Bilic’s side have also found results difficult to come by since being promoted from the Championship earlier this year, and enter the fixture only a place and two points above United in the rankings.
With both teams in desperate need of a win, Wilder said: “People are going to be giving opinions on us left, right and centre because that’s the spotlight that’s on this division. But we’ve got to shut out as much of it as we can, and focus on what we’re doing. What we can’t shut out, we’ve got to take on board and use it to our advantage. I know the lads can do that, and I know they think the same, because I know their characters and how much they are ready to fight, because they care.”
With neither United nor West Brom recording a victory since competition resumed in September, the ability to not to be overwhelmed by the significance of the fixture could prove invaluable in the Midlands - with both managers acknowledging a defeat would deal a blow to their hopes of retaining top-flight status next term.
But belief and bottle alone will not be enough in a division Wilder has described as being of “unrelenting” intensity.
After facing Bilic’s men, United then lock horns with high-flying Leicester City and Manchester United Sandwiched in between those two games is a match against Southampton, one of the surprise packages of the campaign.
“We’ve got to establish a foothold and then go from there,” Wilder said. “We know we need to pick up points. It doesn’t matter where they come from, or how they come, but we’ve got to do it.”