'The quality simply isn't there' - what former Liverpool defender and other pundits said about Sheffield United's defeat to Tottenham Hotspur

Sheffield United’s bid to make it three wins on the trot was ended with a error-strewn defeat against Tottenham Hotspur at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Monday, 18th January 2021, 1:20 pm

Victories over Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup and Newcastle United had given Blades fans hope their side could finally kick-start their season after a horrendous start to the campaign.

But defeat to Jose Mourinho’s Spurs leaves Chris Wilder’s men facing a monumental task to preserve their top flight status as they remain entrenched at the bottom of the Premier League with just five points to their name – and 11 adrift of safety.

Speaking after the game, Blades boss Chris Wilder refused to be too critical of his side’s performance but was frustrated by the manner of the defeat.

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He said: “We got ourselves back in the game (after going 2-0 down), a great goal from our point of view, and there was belief that if we got the goal then it was game on.

"Then we lost the ball in the manner that we did, and it resulted in a fabulous goal.

"We huffed and puffed after that. We didn't have the ability to freshen it up with the bodies on the bench, but the team looked pretty tired today.

"We've squeezed everything out of these players and it was a comfortable last 10 or 15 minutes for them."

Tottenham Hotspur's Tanguy Ndombele sees his shot loop over Aaron Ramsdale and into the back of the net during his side's 3-1 defeat over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane yesterday. (Photo by MIKE EGERTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

But what did the pundits make of United’s latest defeat?

Let’s take a look.

Roy Keane, former Manchester United and Ireland midfielder and Sky Sports pundit on first half performance

“I can’t believe what I’m watching here. One thing I can’t throw at Sheffield United is that you always feel they are a decent group and they’ll have a go.

“I can’t believe how bad they’ve been. They obviously went a goal down after five minutes, and there’s a real lack of quality which we know, lack of creativity.

“You’d think they’d be a bit upbeat after the result the other night. But looking at them today, their points total and everything else that’s behind this team, they could go down as one of the worst teams to ever play in the Premiership.”

Graeme Souness, ex-Liverpool and Scotland midfielder and Sky Sports pundit on first half mistakes

"You’re fighting for your life, you’re at the bottom of the league and if that continues… now call me old fashioned but if I had done that in a game of football when I played eight of my teammates would have been digging me out at half-time.

“This is a team that can only be effective if they’re aggressive in every part of their game.

“What is that challenge saying about a team? You’re fighting for your life, you’re at the bottom of the league.

“That is pathetic, you’re fighting for your life, you’re going get relegated to the Championship, people will lose their jobs, you’re playing for your teammates, everything about it is ‘I’ve accepted my lot’ from Norwood there.”

Francis Benali, former Southampton defender on Sky Sports News

"Sheffield United have struggled all season and today was no different. You could have said there was some hope when David McGoldrick scored and we spoke how they may have tested that (Spurs) back three of Ben Davies, Eric Dier and Joe Rodon, but they didn’t do it enough or with enough quality to enable themselves to get a result today.

"So, they’ve got a massive challenge for the rest of the season now.

"Knowing what Chris (Wilder) has done there, he’ll be very much a person who will be able to take them forward should and when they do get relegated.

"But they’ve got to look at it from a positive point of view. They can’t just right off the rest of the season, they’ve still got to have some belief and faith that they can try and somehow claw themselves out of it.”

Pat Nevin, ex-Chelsea winger on BBC 5Live Sport

“Watching them play I would say they can survive, looking at the league you’re thinking ‘hardly a chance at all’. They have to make up so much ground, they have to go and get wins and it’s hard to see where they are going to get them.

"We mentioned during the commentary the games they’ve got coming up now . . . Manchester City, Manchester United. They’ve got Liverpool and Chelsea coming up after that with West Brom in between.

"How they’re going to get out of it is very difficult to see . . . watching them play, they’re a good enough team to be in the Premier League. They are a good Premier League team and it’s just not been their year and I just feel so sorry for them because you can’t help but like them because they’re so honest.”

Stephen Warnock, former Liverpool defender and guest on Sky Sports’ The Football Show

“I agree with what Chris Wilder said. He is getting everything out of his players . . . their confidence is shot which is understandable. They haven’t probably dropped as much as we think, but the quality isn’t simply there.

"It might be harsh on the players, but they under-performed last year and did extremely well. I think the loss of (Dean) Henderson in goal has been key. I thought he saved them probably 10 or 15 points last year and it was always going to be difficult for Ramsdale to come in and hit the heights that Henderson did last year.

"They’ve had key injuries . . . the signings that they’ve made haven’t been good enough. The Rhian Brewster signing quite simply hasn’t worked. They’ve bought him for big money and they were hoping that he’d be the answer to turn things round.

"I think now when you look at Sheffield United now they have to plan for the Championship next year. I hope I’m proved wrong. If I am, fair enough – but I don’t think I will be.”