Chris Wilder's message to Sheffield United fans ahead of Aston Villa clash
Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has warned his team still faces a battle to retain its Premier League status despite climbing to eighth in the table ahead of today’s game against Aston Villa.
Beaten once since the end of September, United will enter the meeting with Dean Smith’s squad only 18 points short of the 40 usually required to guarantee survival.
Given the financial resources at their disposal and fact they spent more than a decade outside of the top-flight before going up last term, United’s progress under Wilder has been one of the stories of the season so far.
But he reminded their players and supporters that “nothing comes easy” at the highest level, after watching United forced to come from a goal behind before beating Norwich City, another newly promoted club, six days ago.
“It’s important nobody gets complacent,” Wilder, describing the Bramall Lane crowd as a “huge influence” on his team, said.
“And that goes for the fans as well.
“t’s important that, just because the lads are doing well, they don’t start thinking we should be knocking anyone over just because we’re above them.
“We’ve got to work so hard for everything and that’s what the lads are doing.
“That consistent attitude, on and off the pitch, is so important.”
Villa joined United and City in the top-flight when they won May’s play-off final against Derby County. United’s win at Carrow Road came 72 hours after they had lost at home to Newcastle.
“That (40 points) is still a long way off,” Wilder added. “All we’re looking at is the next game, trying to accumulate points. That’s all it can ever be about.
“There were a lot of disappointed players following the Newcastle match. They played well and showed that grit and determination you need to come bouncing back.”
Meanwhile, Blades wing-back Enda Stevens has insisted he does not feel even slightly sentimental ahead of today’s game against Aston Villa. The Republic of Ireland international started his career in England with the visitors, making nine appearances for Villa before joining Portsmouth.
Stevens said: “All I’m bothered about is getting the points for us.”