Chris Wilder claimed he is “not bothered” if Sheffield United’s players take out their frustration on Reading on Tuesday, after accusing them of damaging the club’s hopes of achieving back-to-back promotions.
United will travel to Berkshire eighth in the Championship table following Friday night’s defeat by Hull City.
Although fellow top six hopefuls Middlesbrough, Brentford and Preston North End subsequently failed to punish their slip-up, that will prove scant consolation for Wilder who felt his team had missed an opportunity to cement their Premier League credentials.
Asked if he wanted to see a positive response at the Madejski Stadium, the United manager said: “I’m not bothered what I see to be honest. I don’t give two whatsits. I’m not bothered if they show a reaction. That game (Hull) hurt me. I’m not being a spoilt kid but I thought we were loads better than what we showed there. So I don’t care what they show. I don’t care if there’s a reaction.
“That was the biggest game of the season by a million miles and we’ve not turned up and made c**p decisions.”
“Not one of them can come to me and say ‘you’re offside or out of order’, not one of them,” Wilder, speaking after the 1-0 loss in East Yorkshire, continued. “The motivation shouldn’t have to always come from me. I’m at it 24/7 with this football club. People know what we’ve got to change. I’ll come in and be professional. But it’s over to them now. It really is over to them.”
Having previously described United as “dark horses” in this season’s promotion race - “Every time we win, I think others will be looking at us and wanting us to slip-up” - Wilder’s response to their performance at the KCOM Stadium was also tinged with embarrassment.
“You shouldn’t always need motivating from a manager,” he said. “Arguably, with the situation we were in, I should be able to just sit back and let them go. Clearly I can’t. I thought we always gave ourselves a chance during games. Obviously I was wrong.”
“Those are qualities I don’t normally question with this group,” he added. “So ask them why they didn’t show it. I don’t have an answer. So ask them. I wanted to be in the top six. It doesn’t make them bad players or bad characters overnight. But I am deeply disappointed. It’s maybe given me an insight into some characters too.”