Sheffield United: Chris Wilder refutes mind-game theory

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has insisted he is not playing psychological games by underlining the scale of the challenge awaiting his squad in the Premier League next term.

By James Shield
Friday, 28 June, 2019, 23:19
Sheffield United coped with pressure last season: James Wilson/Sportimage

Wilder, who is thought to have held met with former Manchester United and West Ham midfielder Ravel Morrison about inviting him to train in South Yorkshire, admits competing against financial behemoths such as Manchester City and Liverpool means that securing survival would be an even greater achievement than last season's promotion from the Championship.

Although some observers have interpreted his words as an attempt to reduce the weight of expectation upon a club which last competed in the top-flight 12 years ago, Wilder said: "I'm not trying to take the pressure off any of the players as they know the financial situation we're in.

Sheffield United travel to Portugal next month: James Wilson/Sportimage

"But the Premier League, in the years we’ve been out, has moved on enormously. It's not what it was like, it's pushed on at an unbelievable pace and the coverage it gets is mind blowing."

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United demonstrated their mental strength towards the end of the previous campaign as they won four and drew three of their final seven outings. With fellow contenders Leeds accumulating only seven points during the same period, that focus proved crucial as Wilder’s side finished as runners-up behind Norwich.

Despite identifying a number of targets in key positions, United have yet to unveil any new players since their return to the highest level. Although an agreement which would see former loanee Dean Henderson return to Bramall Lane is thought to be in place, Manchester United want the goalkeeper to sign an extended contract before sanctioning his departure, again on a temporary basis. Two centre-forwards, an attacking midfielder and a wing-back - United will also recruit a centre-half if the opportunity arises - are also priorities.

Morrison, whose early career was blighted by a number of disciplinary issues, has also expressed an interest in working with United after leaving Ostersund. Despite impressing at the Jämtkraft Arena, Morrison’s contract was not renewed by the Swedes at the end of the Allsvenskan campaign.

Chris Wilder says he is not playing mind games: James Wilson/Sportimage