Sheffield United: The suggestion responsible for angering Chris Wilder before Leicester City clash

For most of the morning he was all smiles, laughing and joking his way through subjects including injuries, an aversion to social media and of course this weekend's Premier League fixture against Leicester City.

Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 20:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 22:30 pm
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers: Steven Paston/PA Wire.

But when one suggestion was put to him, by a member of the audience, Chris Wilder initially appeared bewildered. Before, when his inquistor decided to press the issue, looking downright furious.

"Get carried away? We're two games in and in any case, there's never a danger of that," he told journalists at Sheffield United's pre-match media conference earlier today. "That's why I'm confident nobody is getting carried away. Because they haven't got carried away for three years have they? They back themselves, yes. But you have to. Carried away? I've not seen it."

Privately, the Sheffield United manager will take it as a compliment that it was even an issue. But his expression and his tone, when a journalist asked if complacency might be an issue following United's encouraging start to the campaign, suggested he also took it as an insult. Both to their understanding of the challenges they will face over the next nine months and his own professionalism.

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After following their draw at AFC Bournemouth on the opening weekend of the season with a victory over Crystal Palace, United can approach City's visit with a degree of confidence. But Wilder also knows, as they embark upon the club's first top-flight campaign since 2007, that those results will count for little against Brendan Rodgers' side. Indeed, the arrival of a team crowned champions of England in 2016 represents easily the toughest test of the campaign so far for United, who were still languishing in League One at the time. Despite seeing Harry Maguire lured away during the transfer window, Rodgers still boasts an array of established top-flight talent at his disposal, including Ayoze Pérez, Jonny Evans and of course Jamie Vardy. But Ben Chilwell, regarded as one of the country's most promising youngsters, is set to be absent after struggling to recover from the hip complaint which forced him to miss City's draw with Chelsea.

"He's had an injection," Rodgers explained. "He'll join in training and then we'll see how he is."

Wilder, who could hand Luke Freeman his full United debut if John Fleck is ruled out of action, was handed a new deal earlier this summer after being named manager of the year by the LMA. But with trips to Stamford Bridge and Everton looking on the horizon followed by a clash against Liverpool, he is aware United are underdogs in a competition dominated by financial heavyweights. Survival, he reminded, remains their target.

"I've always kept my feet on the ground," Wilder said. "I'm looking at my future. I want to stay in my job. Where is my next contract coming? I'm in the Premier League now. I want to stay in it. It has to be that way. That's the drive from the staff. That's the drive which, we all hope, gets us to where we want to be."

Chris Wilder seemed irritated by the suggestion Sheffield United might get 'carried away': James Wilson/Sportimage