Sheffield United: Why was Chris Wilder in combative mood as he discussed his first 100 games in charge?
Won 54, drawn 20 and lost only 26; Chris Wilder's record since taking charge of Sheffield United is almost unparalleled at Bramall Lane.
But, speaking ahead of his 101st league game in charge of the club, the 50-year-old was in combative mood when he addressed the media earlier today.
The source of his irritation, disguised behind a smile and some gentle sarcasm, is the narrative surrounding United's results against Birmingham and Bristol City.
Social media is not really Wilder's thing yet, within minutes of his press conference starting, it became clear he remains informed of developments in cyberspace.
‘We’re not stuck in a rut’:
Assessing a run of fixtures, which has seen United thrash both Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa before taking a point from their last two outings, Wilder said: "The Bolton performance was three weeks ago and the Villa one was two. That's a few weeks. We're not talking six months here.
"We're not in a rut. You have to keep a calm and steady head because, around you, there's people saying we haven't won in two so that's a crisis. You just have to believe in the process."
Taking the right steps:
United, according to Wilder, enter tomorrow's meeting with Preston North End in "pretty decent nick" despite being held to a draw by Garry Monk's side. Beaten by City four days earlier, he still sees signs of progress.
"Possibly, last season, that was a game we would have lost," Wilder said. "Down there (at Ashton Gate) we played really well for an hour without getting our reward.
"We're getting teams coming up against us, established Championship teams, who are changing what they do. They're doing that against us."Wilder cited last season's visit to Deepdale, where Preston edged a tight encounter, to underline his point.
"We looked at the back of the programme beforehand and remarked on the difference in the strengths of the two squads," he continued. "Not in quality but in depth.
"We had a few people out, brought a 17-year-old Regan Slater in and had Danny Lafferty, whose a defender, playing in the middle of the park as well. Preston had had that extra few years of development at this level and it showed on that programme. They've not spent a fortune but they'd been through that process. I think we've got more flexibility now."
Wilder, a lifelong United supporter and former player, is chasing a second promotion with his boyhood club after delivering the League One title during his first season at the helm.
"My first game wasn't great and my 100th wasn't a classic either," he laughed. "But I'm proud. There's still things to achieve, targets to hit and plenty to go for. Hopefully it won't be for a long time yet but, when all of us do leave here, we can look back and still be proud of what happened."