'It's a Ford Fiesta vs a Ferrari!' Chris Wilder confronts fan criticism ahead of Man United clash
Sheffield United’s players deserve to retain the full-backing of supporters following their exploits in the Premier League this season, manager Chris Wilder has insisted, after reminding his team’s detractors about the size of the challenge it faced after being prompted last term.
United enter Wednesday’s game against Manchester United on the back of a 3-0 defeat at Newcastle - a result which provoked what Wilder believes were unwarranted levels of criticism despite querying aspects of the performance himself.
Despite taking only a point from their first two outings since English football returned to action earlier this month following the Covid-19 pandemic, Wilder, whose side travel to Old Trafford in seventh position, said: “The players have created that pressure. They’ve done that with performances and results.
“It’s not been an issue before. The fight among supporters, it’s their fight. People might be thinking we should be beating Newcastle 5-0 comfortably. I don’t know where that comes from.
“Other supporters will be looking at it and thinking these things happen sometimes. That’s always going to be the tug of war. I could sit with you for an hour and you’d be amazed (by the amount some clubs spend). It’s a Ford Fiesta versus a Ferrari. That’s not a criticism of our club, it’s just a sign of what we’re up against at this level.
“We have the ability, being Sheffield United, to have the best team in the history of the football club and then be looking at being back in Division Four,” Wilder continued. “That’s the same at most clubs now to be fair.
“There’s no in between. I like it when players take responsibility for their performances. When they don’t, that’s the time to start worrying.”
United, who drew with Aston Villa last week, have become one of the most talked about sides in the country since climbing out of the Championship. They are scheduled to face Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-finals following their meeting with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side and, although Wilder admits to being “sick and tired” of reading about it, chasing qualification for Europe on two different fronts.
With Dean Henderson and John Egan already ruled-out of the meeting with the two-time Champions League winners, United also have concerns about the availability of Jack O’Connell, David McGoldrick and Phil Jagielka.
“I’m not going to chuck my players under a bus,” Wilder said. “Players have to raise their performances and I have to pick the right team. If we hadn’t been able to do that, then I don’t think we’d have got the results we have after years of pain.
“We need a bit of a shake up and to get a spark from somewhere. But it quickly turns around. A touch of luck maybe wouldn’t go amiss.
“Hopefully Jack and David will be coming back in too. And also a bit of b***s, because reaction to disappointment is key. It’s about the group. There’s no excuses or finger pointing among us.”