Sheffield United are told what they must do to qualify for Europe next season

Sheffield United must continue to be fearless if they are to realise their ambitions of qualifying for Europe when the Premier League season is eventually completed, manager Chris Wilder has insisted.

Saturday, 18th April 2020, 9:00 am

Wilder’s squad were seventh in the table - only five points behind the Champions League places - before competition was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, and preparing for an FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal.

Having made good on their commitment to attack opponents after being promoted from the Championship last term, United’s position in the rankings has made a mockery of predictions at the beginning of the campaign that they were certain to be relegated; with one well-known pundit even suggesting they would be “down by Christmas” if Wilder persisted with his expansive strategy.

Rather than being a risk, the 52-year-old believes a system which encourages defenders to charge forward when circumstances allow has been a critical factor behind United’s success.

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And, with 10 matches remaining on their schedule, Wilder insisted it would be a mistake to change tact when football eventually resumes.

“We’ve nothing to lose, that’s our philosophy,” he said. “We will go out and take the game to you. We’ll be pushed back but we will be positive.

“That’s the attitude of these boys.”

Given the firepower at the disposal of most top-flight teams, United’s coaching staff took a conscious decision to be proactive rather than reactive following last year’s promotion. Believing that adopting a more conservative approach would prove disastrous against the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, Wilder’s side has instead been able to combine an effective defence with a gameplan which maximises the number of chances created for their own centre-forwards.

The UEFA Champions League trophy. Sheffield United are hoping to qualify for a place in Europe next season via the Premier League or the FA Cup: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

“For a newly promoted side, you want to be competitive,” Wilder said. “We went into the division with no experience.”

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Sheffield United were only five points outside the Champions League places before competition was suspended because of coronavirus: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

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Sheffield United are also in contention for a place in the Europa League: OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images