Sheffield United: Blades boss blasts claim about his team's Premier League form
Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has warned there is nothing his team can do to take Tottenham Hotspur by surprise after revealing the extent of the research Mauricio Pochettino will have performed into the newly promoted club's squad.
Dismissing suggestions United's climb to sixth in the Premier League table can be attributed to the fact their playing style has caught opponents off-guard, Wilder insisted Spurs will already know the visitors' system inside out despite not facing each other for nearly five years.
United, who were promoted from the Championship last term, line-up in a 3-5-2 formation which encourages their defenders to charge forward.
"If we drop our standards in the second half of the season, it's because we've dropped our standards," Wilder said. "Not because of focus or anything like that. They'll have had us watched, individually and collectively, for the last two years. You'd be amazed how much analysis goes on now. And if the analysts aren't being used, I should imagine the chief executive would be asking 'why are we paying them?' You wouldn't believe how many analysts there are at games, all across the country, now."
While United have made an encouraging start to their first top-flight campaign since 2007, Spurs' indifferent form as seen them slip to 11th.
But Wilder said: "It quickly changes. We are fortunate enough to have a few more points than Tottenham now. I think a betting man would stick a few quid on them being above us at the end of the season. It's not how you start, it's where you finish.
"It's a good start. That's all it is. I'm delighted with the start and the attitude of the players. We are not comparing ourselves to any other group. I'm not looking at the league position because eight or nine points separates any number of clubs. Really, we are looking forward and not looking back."
"Scratch beneath the surface, what you've got is one of the world's top managers coaching and managing some of the best players in the country," Wilder added, referring to Pochettino and his side. "I have a lot of admiration for how they work their players. They have an identity in how they play. And within a collective group, they've got world class individuals. One reault will get them going, they can't fail with the talent they have got."
Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill watched Spurs in action against Everton last weekend; 24 hours after a 3-0 victory over Burnley extended United's unbeaten run to four games. The draw at Goodison Park was overshadowed by a horrific injury to Andre Gomes, who suffered a fracture disclocation to an ankle following a challenge by Son Heung-min. The red card Son received was later overturned on appeal, meaning he is available for selection in London tomorrow afternoon.
"We went to watch the game and straight away we knew the severity of the injury," Wilder said. "We wish Andre Gomes a really speedy recovery. He knew how severe the injury was. It was just one of those unfortunate situations. The conclusion of what happened to the tackle stroke push was horrific. From our point of view, he seems a right down to earth lad as well. (Son). So not just him, we'll be up against some very high quality players."