'It’s just important they show to their fans that they do care' - what Newcastle legend said after Sheffield United's defeat to Liverpool
It is now 21 defeats in 26 Premier League games for Sheffield United following last night’s 2-0 loss to reigning champions Liverpool.
It means it’s pretty much a case of when the Blades will be relegated to the Championship and not if after falling a mammoth 15 points from safety with just a dozen games remaining.
“You’ve got to be at your best to beat Liverpool,” Blades manager Chris Wilder bemoaned afterwards.
“They’re still one of the top sides in England and one of the top sides in Europe and you have to be at your best, have your best players available and be on top of your form.
“Unfortunately we’re not. Aaron (Ramsdale’s) kept us in the game first half but if a team in and around us, or just above us, is to get a result against Liverpool, your ‘keeper has got to play well."
But what did the pundits make of United latest defeat?
Let’s take a look at what they said.
Roy Keane, ex-Manchester United midfielder and Sky Sports pundit
“For all their effort and bits and pieces, they've had chances and didn’t take them. They probably have four or five strikers at the top end of the pitch who haven't been good enough.
"Last year I listened to a lot of Chris Wilder, I have huge respect for Chris Wilder, I think he's done a brilliant job but he got the plaudits last year but this year if you lose 21 matches in 26 games you are going to have to be criticised.
"And we can sit here and say they have a great bunch of lads. I'm sure they have, well they have I know some of them, I've worked with them, some of the best lads you'll meet, but you need more than that in the Premier League.”
Alan Shearer, former Newcastle United striker and Match of the Day pundit
"They’ve struggled with injuries, they obviously haven’t scored enough goals . . . they’re going down. It’s just important that when they go down, they go down with a fight and they show to their fans that they do care.”
Sue Smith, ex-Doncaster Rovers Belles forward speaking on Sky Sports’ Football Show
“I think it is (about building for next season now for Sheffield United) and you can’t fault any of the application or the effort of the players and the fact that they have only lost by small margins for a lot of games this season . . . and they have been really unlucky with injuries, we have to really stress that.
"To miss all three of your central defenders . . . how is any team going to cope with that? It is very difficult.
"So, it’s about building for next season. It’s about wanting, or trying, to pick up as many points as you can and (producing) as many good performances as you can.
"You don’t want to go down into the Championship completely devoid of all confidence.
"You want to be in the Championship with a real fighting spirit to get yourself back out of it. It’s been a really difficult season for Chris Wilder and Sheffield United and I’m sure that’s what they’ll be planning for now.”
Graeme Souness, former Liverpool midfielder and Sky Sports pundit
“I think (they have missed key players) . . . O’Connell being injured, (Dean) Henderson going back to (Manchester United). He was fabulous for them and kept them in games they shouldn’t have been alive in. When you analyse the second season syndrome, it’s just when players maybe start to believe that they belong in the Premier League.
"Chris is dealing with a group of players that are honest, hard-working but not the most talented – that’s a fact, I’m not being critical.
"That’s a fact compared to what the Premier League is made up of. So he’s working with a group of players last year that were absolutely thrilled and excited with every single moment they were in the Premier League.
"Then they go into the second season – and they’re not alone with this, we’ve seen it before. We talk about small margins all the time in the Premier League and the highest levels in any sport I would imagine it’s the same . . . when input in terms of concentration and effort drop off one or two per cent, you’re no longer getting results.
"I think that’s maybe where they are. I think the manager is getting everything from the players.
"I’ve never heard him say they’re business plan was to finish 17th . . . absolute survival. If that’s the reality and that’s his brief from the directors and the owner, then it’s a hard job.”
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, ex-Chelsea striker and Sky Sports pundit
“We always knew it was going to be difficult for Sheffield United. They did absolutely magnificent (last year), but they’ve come way short this season not because of their efforts . . . but also the quality in the Premier League is just super, super high – especially up top.
"There is where the difference is. If you don’t have strikers that can put the ball in the net or have midfielder runners or wide runners that can nick goals, you’re going to struggle.
"Whatever team you are and however good football you play or whatever you have at the back, you’re going to struggle and they have struggled in that (goalscoring) department.”
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