Sheffield United: Attacking philosophy will not change for Chris Wilder

Despite acknowledging there will be times when they are stifled of possession and pinned down in a choke-hold on the edge of their own box, Chris Wilder has insisted it would be a mistake for Sheffield United to abandon the attacking principles which have delivered two promotions in his first three seasons at the club.

Monday, 10th June 2019, 6:32 pm
Updated Monday, 10th June 2019, 11:19 pm
Chris Wilder

But Wilder, whose employers are preparing for their first taste of Premier League football since 2007 after finishing second in the Championship last term, does accept the pioneering system which has become United's trademark in recent months must be tweaked for certain games.

"We're not going to change what we do," he said. "But yes, we recognise what we're going into and who we are going to be coming up against and it would be stupid to ignore that.

"There are going to be periods, maybe matches, where we get pushed back and we're not embarrassed about that, never have been in fact because that's football, it's happened before.

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"Still, what we'll always do is go in with the determination to try and cause the opposition problems and pose them questions too."

Although sticking with the tactics they have spent nearly 36 months honing makes sound sporting sense, Wilder's decision is based on aesthetics too. In an era where many managers and coaches are now content to replicate ideas developed by others, pairing attacking wing-backs with over-lapping centre-halves has given United a distinct identity. One which, Wilder has referenced on countless occasions, is partly responsible for repairing the previously fractured relationship between their team and support.

"I think the people here want to see us have a go," he continued. "Sheffield people are honest people, it's a hard-working city, always has been, and yes, I do think it's important to play in a way that reflects that.

"So that's what we do, it's what's got us this far and it's what we'll carry on doing."

Despite proving they also have the talent to trouble many top-flight teams - players including Jack O'Connell and John Fleck have been courted by many in the past - United suspect backing from the terraces will be vital when they face the biggest names in the competition. While it is possible to argue to gap between the Championship and the bottom third of the Premier League has reduced in recent years, they one separating those coming up and its leading names - Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea - has widened to such an extent many now believe they are effectively taking part in a tournament of their own.

"We're not daft," Wilder said. "There's going to be games when we have to make a few little changes to what we do.

"But we've been doing that all the way through anyway. We changed things around a little bit during games last season, in terms of personnel and shape, to try and make sure we did certain things or to combat what the opposition wanted to do."