Match Analysis: A siege mentality and sense of injustice, combined with true courage, proved the catalysts for Sheffield United's win at QPR

David McGoldrick is congratulated on his winning penalty
David McGoldrick is congratulated on his winning penalty
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Sheffield United travelled to London supposedly shot, sussed-out and, if the whispers were to be believed, on the brink of civil war after losing their opening two games of a season which, only a week earlier, some folk believed was destined to end in the most glorious of fashions.

So, having seen his team produce a courageous and ultimately victorious display inside the Championship's most claustrophobic arena, Chris Wilder could not resist the temptation to take a swipe at the social media trolls he accused of erasing two season's worth of history.

"We've created that expectation level," he said. "We've sold players, we've produced good players and we've brought good players in. We've picked results up. I've had messages from good people. It's been a tough week but good people have been in touch.

"I just want to win all the time. People were saying all sorts of things after two games. We just wanted to go out there and get a result. You know, the one nobody thought we could."

Wilder's words, dripping in so much sarcasm one almost felt compelled to wear trunks, betrayed both his irritation at the and the motivation behind this win. With one promotion and a play-off challenge already under his belt, the United manager felt the scrutiny of the past seven days was premature at best. He was not the only one intent on proving a point. Billy Sharp, scorer of the visitors' first goal after the excellent Ebere Eze had edged Queens Park Rangers in front, justified his recall to the side. Mark Duffy and Kieron Freeman, also making their first starts of the new campaign, were responsible for creating the chance which ensured David McGoldrick's penalty became the fixture's decisive moment.

"We're really struggling with that character stuff aren't we? We have over the last two years," Wilder continued. "We've not shown any bottle, any character, any spirit or any desire. We're all over the place, having fights in the changing room. I don't sign players who don't want to put it in for this football club. I told them beforehand that, if people are questioning you, you know how to best shut them up."

Chris Wilder and captain Billy Sharp at the final whistle

Chris Wilder and captain Billy Sharp at the final whistle

Despite his defiant tone, Wilder's selections revealed he also shared some of the critics' concerns about United's early season form. Beaten by Swansea City and bludgeoned by Middlesbrough during a chaotic 25 minute spell in the North-East four days earlier, Richard Stearman was also among four changes unveiled at Loftus Road. His return, coupled with the physical presence Chris Basham brought to the midfield, coincided with a much more solid defensive performance with John Egan enjoying his best outing in a United shirt since completing a record breaking move from Brentford.

"There's been a lot of noise and nonsense," Wilder acknowledged. "We have to keep calm and cool. The expectation level has gone through the roof over the past few years. Would I want it any other way? No.

"But when you fall a bit, this is what happens.You just have to take it on the chin with what people say. We're a tight group."

"(George ) Baldock has turned his ankle," he added. "But Kieron has been close to playing so that might have happened as well. We picked a team to try and win a game, as I always do. We make substitutions to try and win games as well. We do what's best for the club, not for me, not for Billy and not for Richard Stearman either. There's no Big Time Charlies here. There's no arrogance. The players who came in gave their all and the players who went out gave them their full backing beforehand."

Billy Sharp scored Sheffield United's equaliser

Billy Sharp scored Sheffield United's equaliser

Although United's form since the second half of last term will still cause some concerns - they have won only seven times in as many months - the difference in approach was evident here. Sharp brought the dynamism, Duffy the guile and others, including John Fleck and Leon Clarke, benefited with the latter enjoying more opportunities over the course of the afternoon than in his previous two appearances combined. One, after a driving run across the penalty area, brought a fine save from Matt Ingram after Sharp's equaliser.

But the final outcome was even more satisfying and significant because Rangers made United work. Luke Freeman is Steve McClaren's most coveted asset but Eze, a 20-year-old from Greenwich, seems destined to eclipse him and brought the best out of Dean Henderson either side of his opener.

United's response to another Eze near miss was emphatic, with Sharp sweeping home from close range after Duffy, noticing Freeman had advanced into space, threading the ball into his path. McGoldrick's first contribution as a substitute was to convert from the spot after being impeded by Joel Lynch. It was a contentious call by referee Scott Duncan but Wilder, who was later forced to withdraw McGoldrick through injury, referenced several United have found themselves on the wrong end of in the past.

Intriguingly, it later emerged that Sharp, United's designated taker who had made way for the former Ipswich Town attacker, has been handed responsibility for deciding who steps-up in his absence.

"Bill takes the penalties," Wilder said. "I leave it up to the skipper to take that aspect up and organise it.

"Straight away, David picked up the ball. Was it a good penalty? I can't see it because I was looking down the tunnel."

"David's got great technique and he fits into the group really well," he added. "You could see at the end what it meant to everybody. There was no sloping off down the tunnel afterwards. It's not the biggest result in our history but it's a pretty important one."