Sheffield United: The Blades are told what they must do in order to maintain Premier League progress

Early on Thursday morning, before he sat down with the media to discuss Sheffield United's game against Tottenham Hotspur, Chris Wilder spent a few minutes on the phone to an acquaintance who works for another club.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 1:42 pm
Updated Friday, 8th November 2019, 3:32 pm
Sheffield United have made a fine start to the Premier League season: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Sheffield United have made a fine start to the Premier League season: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

The purpose of the call was really just a catch-up. He gave the impression the two had not spoken for a while.

But the conversation they shared, which inevitably revolved around football, made Wilder even more determined to press ahead with one of his most important agendas; using United's Premier League status to build something special at Bramall Lane. Not only this season, but also beyond.

"No excuses," Wilder said. "I spoke with someone who is quite high up another club and he said 'don't give players excuses. Don't leave anything to chance.' It helps you attract players and to get the best out of them. The recovery is huge now, it's come on leaps and bounds. Which is good because, even though we're going Saturday to Saturday now, it's a really mentally a physically demanding division."

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Although securing a positive result in north London sits at the top of Wilder's in-tray - a win could see United climb to fifth in the table - their manager has made no secret of the fact that, despite his mantra about only focusing on the next game, he occasionally takes a moment to consider the changes his employers could effect if they consolidate a place in England's elite division. Certainly, if Wilder has his way, their training complex and stadium will look very different if, in a year or so, United are still plying their trade at the highest level.

Inevitably, given the demands of the competition, discussions are already underway about potential transfer targets in January with Sander Berge, the KRC Genk midfielder, among those who could come under consideration.

"I think we've had that for the last couple of years in the Championship, we have to offer and persuade players this is the right place to commit their futures too," Wilder said. "They have done and hopefully will do so in the future.

"But this isn't a stand still club, it can't be. It can't be that we've done enough. I'd like to think that the owners will take that on board, my ambition for the football club. If you say 'this group is okay' then you don't improve and you go backwards."

Although there will inevitably be calls for United to set aside the majority of their budget for recruiting and retaining talent, Wilder used Spurs' decision to build a new state-of-the art arena to present the case for spending elsewhere. Tomorrow's match in the capital marks United's first appearance at the £1bn ground Mauricio Pochettino's side now call home.

Despite stressing he is not advocating a move away from Bramall Lane, Wilder said: "I know there has been talk of improving the experience and there has to be. It's a brilliant stadium - an old historic stadium with a modern feel - but there are still parts in there, the chief executive and the club will want to improve the experience.

"We want to give value for money on the pitch and they want to make sure they (the fans) enjoy coming to the ground. It's not in my domain, but I have my fingerprints on it because I have all over every part of the football club."

United, who climbed to sixth when they beat Burnley last weekend, are unbeaten on the road since January. Spurs have prepared for the match in 11th following their draw with Everton.