Chris Wilder's comments suggest he may be running out of patience with some Sheffield United players
For months now, as Sheffield United slid ever closer towards relegation from the Premier League, Chris Wilder has faced up to the media and staunchly defended his players.
Not always in terms of their performances – Wilder is one for straight-talking, rather than spin, and several members of his squad have been left in no doubt about his views on how they have played – but in terms of their professionalism, character and attitude.
But that mask began to slip a little at the weekend, after goals from Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse and former Blade Che Adams sentenced United to their 22nd defeat of a pretty miserable season so far.
The United manager admitted to a Premier League rights holder after the game that United’s squad needs refreshing, confirming that he would like to start the process sooner rather than later if he was allowed to.
“It needs a bit of a shake up, I think, in terms of a few bodies going out and few bodies coming in,” Wilder admitted.
“We need to keep our best players because I do believe when I have Berge back and Basham back and Egan back and O’Connell back, that plays a huge part.
“There’s a couple that need to go, they have to go at the end of the season. I’d like to shake it up a bit quicker but the rules and regs for that don’t allow me to.
“And the hand that I’m given is a pretty tough one with some of the players we have to go with.”
As is to be expected, Wilder declined to expand upon his comments and name the players he was referring to. Blades supporters on social media are convinced they know – despite all coming up with wildly different names – but it is clear that Wilder’s patience is starting to run out with players he may privately suspect are not completely committed to United.
“We are ultra positive people,” Wilder, referring to himself and his coaching staff, added.
“But the players have just got to lift themselves and get themselves through it. As a player though, you’ve basically got to get yourself going rather than relying on someone else to do it.”