Sheffield United: How The Blades responded to a rival’s promotion boast

It felt like a pivotal moment in the battle for automatic promotion but, as Chris Wilder later reminded, so did the victory over Leeds three weeks earlier.

By James Shield
Friday, 05 April, 2019, 15:30
Sheffield United are not being distracted by Leeds' mind games: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Little wonder then, as he discussed his team's climb back into the automatic promotion places, Sheffield United's manager cut a pretty phlegmatic figure.

"Who knows, until the end of the season, until you can sit back and reflect, it's impossible to say what the turning points are," Wilder said following Saturday's win at Preston North End. "That's the time when you can recognise how you ended up where you did. But we're in a fantastic position, of course."

Sheffield United beat Preston North End: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

United had travelled to Deepdale in third, two points behind their rivals from West Yorkshire, after being beaten by Bristol City earlier this month.

But with Marcelo Bielsa's squad losing to Birmingham, United's destination on Wednesday, David McGoldrick's first-half goal proved enough to not only beat Alex Neil's side but also lift them to second with only six fixtures of the season left to play.

Following United's slip-up against City,, Tyler Roberts claimed Leeds were "back where we belong" after wiping-out the advantage Wilder's men had established after edging past their Yorkshire rivals at Elland Road before the international break.

"We don't want to go away, we've earned this, we're enjoying it, and we want a little bit more," Wilder responded. "It's been a great season but there's six games to go. We want to turn it into something even better.

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David McGoldrick is congratulated on his goal at Deepdale: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

"We have to keep calm and composed. Like we have done this week. It's easy to get caught up in all the other stuff that goes on. It's been a long week but a good one."

Wilder's demeanor during his latest post-match interview confirmed, with Leeds set to face Preston on Tuesday, that he expects the battle for the runners-up berth to go right down to the wire. United meet Millwall, Nottingham Forest, Hull City, Ipswich Town and Stoke City after their trip to the Midlands while Leeds' opponents include Sheffield Wednesday, Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa.

"There's still a lot of football to be played," Wilder said. "Experience teaches you that plenty can happen between now and the end of the season.

"Things can change. You've just got to stay calm, focused and level-headed.

“We're really not looking at anything other than trying to take care of our own business."