How Chris Wilder was given extra belief Sheffield United would avoid the drop
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder leapt to the defence of his players following their defeat to West Ham, despite watching them remain at the foot of the Premier League and still without a win this season ahead of Saturday’s crucial meeting with fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion.
Revealing how David Moyes had reassured him United can still avoid relegation during a post-match heart to heart, Wilder also joked he will ask Bramall Lane’s hierarchy for permission to enjoy a sunshine break on the advice of his opposite number.
Describing how Moyes, previously of Everton, Manchester United and Real Sociedad, urged him to “take the boys to Miami” to alleviate the pressure on their shoulders, Wilder said: “Speaking to someone like David, an LMA winning manager a number of times, someone who has been right at the top of the game in this country for years and also worked at the highest level abroad, hearing him tell me there isn’t a lot wrong with my team gives me a lot of belief.
“As you can imagine, I spend every minute of the day thinking about what we can do better and covering a lot of things. Everything in fact. But there wasn’t a lot wrong out there. I was okay with the performance. So, really, to hear David say what he did should give us a lot of confidence and belief going forward.”
Promoted twice under Wilder’s stewardship, United finished ninth in the table last term. But a combination of issues, including injuries and the ban on spectators because of the Covid-19 pandemic, have seen them struggle to replicate that form since returning to action in September.
“We’re not going to beat anyone in this division by four or five,” Wilder continued, after watching Sebastian Haller score the only goal of the contest early in the second-half.
“That was a tight game and, for us to make them tight games at this level, that’s a compliment in a way for my team. We had the perfect storm here last year, with the crowd and a clean bill of health. It’s just those big moments we’ve talked about before, and that moment of quality West Ham found and we couldn’t.”
After confirming Ethan Ampadu could be a doubt for the trip to The Hawthorns because of a hip problem sustained against the Londoners, Wilder also explained a number of other fitness concerns had forced him to omit captain Billy Sharp from yesterday’s squad.
“Rhian Brewster is the future of the club,” Wilder said, referring to United’s record transfer signing. “But with John Egan getting a knock during the international break, we had to be mindful of the fact we had to cover that position and also Flecky (John Fleck) who was out there too. So we went with more defenders and midfielders than would otherwise be the case.
"It’s unfortunate for Billy and I can understand he’ll be disappointed but I’ve told him he arguably is even more important now as a skipper than when he’s playing.”