Former England manager heaps praise on Chris Wilder and Sheffield United
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McClaren, the former Derby County and Middlesbrough boss, hailed Wilder for his innovative approach which has taken United from the depths of League One to within touching distance of Champions League qualification in just three seasons.
And the former national team coach also gave an insight into what the United chief demands from his players when they cross the white line on matchday.
“I’ve played him a couple of times and he always comes in afterwards and is a gentleman, he has a glass of wine and you sit and talk and everything like that,” said McClaren, who led England from August 2006 to November 2007.
“I remember when I was at QPR and they beat us and I thought ‘this is a team, this’. I said ‘how are you doing and everything’ and he said ‘we’re a team which needs to be 100 per cent, every player, every week. If we are 99 per cent or 98, we lose games. We need to be 100 per cent’.
“And what he’s doing, he’s getting 100 per cent – it’s phenomenal – (first) in the Championship and now in the Premier League.”
McClaren was speaking to Sky Sports News about United’s achievements this season in the wake of a 2-1 extra-time victory over Reading on Tuesday evening to book their place in the quarter finals of the FA Cup.
David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp scored the goals to secure a hard-fought win at the Madejski Stadium and McClaren pointed to the unique overlapping centre-back system deployed by Wilder and his side's togetherness for their successful return to the Premier League after a 12-year absence.
“Nobody wants to play against them,” he said.
“Billy Sharp, he’s 34 – a goalscorer. (They have) a goalkeeper, three centre-backs who are strong and somebody who can score goals.
“That’s the basis of your team and he’s got workers and men around that. They’re just a team together.”