Sheffield United's new selection policy is explained ahead of FA Cup clash against AFC Fylde
It was midway through Thursday’s game at Liverpool, as he watched his players labour against the Premier League champions elect, when Chris Wilder turned to Alan Knill and admitted he was going to back to the drawing board.
Having resolved to field his strongest starting eleven against AFC Fylde, Sheffield United’s manager revealed he would make wholesale instead.
“Everything is going to change,” Wilder confirmed ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie. “Initially, I was going to name a really strong side but that’s not the case now. In order to give ourselves the best possible chance of doing what we want to do, there’s going to be a whole new side going out there.”
Although he acknowledged his decision risks another third round exit - United were beaten by Barnet at the same stage last term - Wilder insisted it should not be interpreted as disrespectful to either the tournament or the opposition who, he revealed yesterday, Bramall Lane’s coaching staff have researched in detail.
Rather, after analysing United’s performance at Anfield, coupled with their exertions against Manchester City four days earlier, an acknowledgment that the demands of top-flight football took a toll on his squad over the festive period.
“Yes, I was disappointed (at Liverpool) because I didn’t think we laid a glove on them,” Wilder said. “But then you think was it what we had to put in against City, with their world class stars, and then go straight into a game against the runaway leaders?
“So I’m saying it now, we’re going to make changes. Which means there’s an opportunity for others to come in and impress.”
Wilder, who is expected to hand new signing Jack Rodwell his United debut against the Conference outfit, accepted his selection policy could lead to a disjointed display as under-cooked players, some of whom could leave during the transfer window, are thrown together in a new look line-up.
But he reminded: “I still expect us to go out there and win the game. I want us to go through.”
United remained eighth in the table after losing 2-0 to Jurgen Klopp’s side, having been beaten by the same scoreline at Manchester City.