Sheffield United: Chris Wilder makes amazing 'admission' after watching his team climb to sixth in the Premier League
For once, a manager whose no-nonsense approach and forthright views have been described as a breath of fresh air in the image obsessed world of the Premier League probably wasn't telling the whole truth.
"I've not looked at the table," Chris Wilder insisted after watching Sheffield United climb to sixth. "And I won't be looking at either. The only time I will is at the end of the season. That's because it's all about an accumulation of points. You have to do so many things right to win a game of football. At any level. And we did that."
It seems inconceivable, after masterminding his side's defeat of Burnley, that Wilder was unaware it had lifted them into a potential European place. Instead, a more plausible explanation for the United manager's demeanor is his distaste for complacency and big-time attitudes. Although Wilder does not believe his players will fall prey to either, the 52-year-old has previously issued a number of warnings about how quickly fortunes can change at elite level.
Reflecting upon United's four match unbeaten run, which also includes a victory over Arsenal last month, Wilder said: "We've had two big results since that which tells you something, I believe, about the lads' attitude. That doesn't change and it's important it doesn't because it can't afford to. Knowing them, I don't believe it will."
"That's the way we want to be; always on it," he added. "There are going to be difficult days, especially at this level, which I get totally. But the attitude can't change. Sometimes, you just get beaten by the better team and you have to hold your hands up and take it on the chin. I'm fine with that, even if I don't like getting beat and neither do the boys. But it's down to attitude, that's what we wouldn't accept and, as I said, I don't think we'll be in that situation."
Sean Dyche, the Burnley manager, delivered a similar message during his post-match press conference. Albeit for different reasons after first-half goals from John Lundstram (2) and John Fleck saw the visitors fall four points behind United.
"Media-wise it does, yes," the former Chesterfield defender said. "But one result doesn't change anything. I know how quickly things can change within camp. There's a lot of honesty within the group. I don't think it will take too many words from me. There will be an adjustment within the group, I'm sure."
Burnley, as Dyche conceded, barely landed a glove on United during the entirety of the game. Ashley Barnes blazed over from close range early in the second period, after Jack O'Connell had inadvertently diverted the ball into his path. But a couple of routine interventions apart, United goalkeeper Dean Henderson was effectively a bystander.
"After we'd put ourselves in position, I thought we controlled it really well," Wilder said.