Sheffield United: Chris Wilder praises his players’ character but issues a Sheffield derby warning following key win over West Bromwich Albion
Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, insisted his players passed an important psychological test after regaining second place in the Championship table following their victory over promotion rivals West Bromwich Albion.
Remarkably, having described Darren Moore's side as the "best equipped" squad in the Championship ahead of kick-off, Wilder claimed he "did not enjoy" aspects of United's performance at The Hawthorns and warned they must continue to improve ahead of next week's derby against Sheffield Wednesday.
But with the game against West Brom kicking-off after leaders Norwich City and Leeds in third had all posted wins earlier in the day, Wilder acknowledged the scheduling had placed both United and the hosts under extra pressure.
"100 per cent," he said. "We are committed to the (television) people that put these times on and games.
"But I think this is definitely the hardest one to deal with. Players are waiting all day for the game and knowing what results come in.
"They are know; they don't live in a bunker. Everybody knows and knew that it was important that we got a result.
"It would not have been the end of the world if we had lost or drawn. But we have got a big three points and beaten a team in and around us, which is always good for us."
Although Oliver Norwood will be eligible for selection at Hillsborough after avoiding his 10th booking of the season, United saw defenders John Egan and Martin Cranie both succumb to muscle problems during their victory in the Midlands.
With games against Rotherham, Brentford and third-placed Leeds looming on the horizon after the visit to Wednesday, Wilder said: "We will know at the end of the season (how important the victory is). It is a game we were really up for and we have been up for every game.
"You do not get the results we have got without being committed. I did not think it was our greatest performance, if I am totally honest. There is loads of stuff that we talked about in the week and we gave the ball away far too cheaply.
"Against a good opposition with the quality they have got, that gives them an opportunity to hurt you. But from a positive point of view, the commitment, character and general togetherness of the side was great. There are bits and pieces for us to work on, but it has been a good day against a team who are in and around us."
West Brom remained in fourth after United's Kieran Dowell scored the only goal of the game early in the first-half and Wilder, a former team mate of Moore at Bradford City, added: It is a tough place to go and they are possibly the best equipped team in the Championship for a long, long time.
"Looking back over the past four or five years, I would possibly say Newcastle were up there too. A lot of the teams who come out of the Premier League struggle, because they lose players and have not got the right group.
"West Brom have got a really good group with the players they have brought in the summer and January and a manager who has obviously been here. I thought he was a class act at the death when he waited for every one of our players and to shake their hand afterwards, which tells you a lot about him and (assistant coach) Wayne Jacobs."