Sheffield United: ‘You need to be motivated if you play for this football club? Don’t make me laugh’
Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has admitted he would be angered if any member of his squad needed motivating as this season's battle for Premier League football enters a critical phase.
With 14 matches remaining, United enter tomorrow's game against Reading third in the table and knowing victory will see them regain a top two place.
Asked how he would be seeking to inspire his team ahead of the meeting with José Manuel Gomes' side, Wilder said: "Part of my job is to motivate at the right time. But I think I've got major major problems if I have to motivate them all the time.
"Okay, I have to tear into them on occasion, which I quite enjoy to be honest. But you don't need motivation to play for this football club. You shouldn't need motivating to be a professional footballer."
United's preparations for the game received a blow last when it was confirmed George Baldock, who limped out of Wednesday's win over Middlesbrough, had failed to recover in time. Fellow defender Jack O'Connell is also a doubt, while centre-half Chris Basham completes a two match ban.
Wilder's comments about the mindset of United's players will resonate with a number of his counterparts across the top two tiers of English competition, including Chelsea's Maurizio Sarri, who have complained about the attitude of their charges in recent weeks.
"The lads here don't want to waste the year," Wilder added. "I don't want to waste the year. There's a big prize out there and we should be motivated enough to try and grab it. It shouldn't need a speech from me or anyone to get people up for that and, to be fair to the lads, it doesn't either."
With O'Connell scheduled to undergo a late fitness test, Wilder could choose to recall Kieran Freeman who has failed to make an appearance since last month's FA Cup defeat by Barnet. But the performances of Martin Cranie and Richard Stearman against Tony Pulis' men could persuade Wilder to keep faith with the rearguard which finished that fixture.
"It does open it up for Kieran, if we want to go down that road, but also we have the option to play with what was a very good back three again the other night," he said. "Cranie has got the experience and the attributes to play there."