'It was like a team who were obsessed to get a result' - what former Aston Villa striker and other pundits said about Sheffield United's first Premier League win
Sheffield United have finally chalked up their first Premier League win of the season.
The hard-fought, but fully deserved, 1-0 victory over Newcastle United at Bramall Lane was sealed courtesy of Billy Sharp’s second half penalty and ended a sequence of results in which the Blades hadn’t won a game in the top flight since last July.
It was also their first clean sheet of the season.
Now United boss Chris Wilder has urged his players to use the badly-needed victory as a springboard to eat into the nine-point gap between themselves and safety.
“I'm not being doom and gloom but it's not been an enjoyable time for players supporters or staff,” he said.
"So it's back to work tomorrow and move on because we can't waste this opportunity.
"We've still got an incredible challenge ahead of us but no-one's throwing the towel in. It wasn't a white flag performance, we had desire to go and win a game and had no little quality, either."
But what did the pundits make of United’s first win of the season and do they believe Wilder’s side can pull off the great escape?
Let’s take a look.
Danny Mills, former Leeds United defender and guest on Sky Sports’ The Football Show
"I think the problem they have is scoring goals. It’s nine goals they’ve now scored this season and some of those have been from the penalty spot. I think last season their top goalscorer had six (but) were so good defensively and this is the problem for them.
"They just don’t score enough goals and even last night they created an awful lot of chances. If they had somebody who could put the ball in the back of the net, they would have been two or three nil up by half-time.
"But when I look at their run of fixtures . . . they’ve got Tottenham, Manchester United, Manchester City . . . and when you’re talking about putting runs together, I don’t see them picking up too many points in those games.
"So, you get your first win and then suddenly you’re right up against it. Yet again, it’s going to very, very difficult to get any sort of momentum. They’re still going to need, I would say, 30 points from the next 18, 19 games and that’s going to be very, very difficult to achieve when you’ve only got five up to this point.”
Tom Huddlestone, ex-Tottenham Hotspur midfielder and guest on Sky Sports’ The Football Show
"Their confidence has been knocked massively throughout the first half of the season, but they seemed to play with that belief and had trust in their manager’s ideas. Eleven of their losses have been by one goal, so obviously they’re fighting for their manager every game they’re in.
"I thought they were excellent, first half especially when it was 11 v 11. But it showed they haven’t got that one clinical striker that when you’re on top can put a goal or two in the back of the net and make the game easier for you.
"They got a little bit of luck with the penalty. But hopefully for them that will be the little bit of luck they needed to kick-start their season.”
Jamie Redknapp, former Liverpool and England midfielder and Sky Sports matchday studio guest
"They were the better side but weirdly they played better against 11 men than they did the 10. They seemed to struggle a little bit (against 10) . . . a little bit desperate and even towards the end you could see the pressure was starting to mount.
"It was a huge three points for them and they thoroughly deserved it and were the better team when Newcastle had 11 men. They were a class apart today, and they deserved it.
"There’ll be so much relief (through) the whole club. That training ground will feel a lot better place.
"Rhian Brewster had a good half-hour when he came on, maybe just a bit more, but they need that now. They need to build on this, have some impetus . . . bit of confidence . . . pride – that was the word we mentioned before the game and they showed plenty of it.”
Gabby Agbonlahor, ex-Aston Villa striker and guest on talkSPORT Breakfast Show
“The biggest thing for me watching the game was they looked like the Sheffield United side from last season. They were running hard at the opposition, they were creating chances and they were all fighting and putting in blocks to get a win.
"McGoldrick for me stood out. Every time they attacked and had a shot and lost possession, McGoldrick was the first one running and sprinting back. It was like a team who were obsessed to get a result and that’s what you want to see as a Sheffield United fan.
"If they continue to do that, there’s no reason why they can’t go and beat the top teams if you’re all working harder than them – but it’s going to be very tough.”
Ally McCoist, former Rangers and Scotland striker and guest on talkSPORT Breakfast Show
"That was a massive, massive result for Sheffield United but I’m looking at the league table and dear me, they’ve got to win three games straight away to get themselves out (of the relegation zone) and that’s assuming the teams above them don’t pick up points.
"I’ll tell you right now, as big a result as it was, if Sheffield United stay up it would be the greatest escape since the boys jumped the tunnel at Stalag Luft III. It would be a bigger escape than the boys at Alcatraz. It would be unbelievable.”