Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder makes an admission about transfers and indentifies his top priority

Chris Wilder has revealed that focusing on Tuesday’s Premier League game against Newcastle is his top-priority, not orchestrating the club’s latest recruitment drive, despite admitting it is vital new players arrive before this month’s window closes in order for it to stand a chance of avoiding relegation back to the Championship.

Sunday, 10th January 2021, 7:08 pm

After being told money was being made available for two loan signings to bolster United’s injury hit squad, Wilder delivered a series of “transfer recommendations” to Bramall Lane’s board of directors last month with Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard known to feature at the top of his wanted list.

Responsibility for delivering those targets has now passed to United’s hierarchy. Although Wilder has previously described himself as a “hands-on manager”, with his team entering Tuesday’s home game against Newcastle 12 points adrift of safety, coaching staff have taken the decision to concentrate on “trying to win football matches” rather than negotiating with potential acquisitions.

“I’ve concentrated totally on this game and that’s what I’ll be doing with the next one,” Wilder said, after watching United record their first victory of the campaign at Bristol Rovers on Saturday. “I’ll probably have revisited transfers at some point (over the weekend) but my biggest focus has been trying to help the players get through what has been a very difficult run, a difficult week and what was always going to be a very difficult game. That’s the same for the next one too. It has to be.”

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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder at Bristol Rovers on Saturday: Michael Steele/Getty Images

United reached the fourth round of the FA Cup courtesy of a 3-2 win at the Memorial Stadium; a result which saw Wilder record his 100th victory in charge of a side he has led from the third to the first tier since taking charge four-and-a-half years ago. Despite that track record, Wilder’s future had been thrown into doubt before the trip to the south-west following United’s poor start to the campaign and rumours of disquiet behind the scenes.

“There’s no heat on me,” Wilder said. “I deal with what the game is all about. I’ve been in it since I was 16 and so nothing surprises me in terms of what flies about and, as people know, I’m not one for social media and all that.

“This was all about the players and the supporters, trying to get that first win of the season for them.

“Nothing ever surprises me in football. Nothing.”

Although John Lundstram has returned from suspension, United could be without a number of key players for the meeting with Steve Bruce’s side after Enda Stevens and George Baldock joined Jack O’Connell, Sander Berge and Oli McBurnie on the treatment table. Lys Mousset will also be assessed ahead of the fixture after appearing to damage his ankle against Rovers, while Wilder confirmed Billy Sharp and Phil Jagielka were the two players diagnosed with Covid-19 last month following a series of positive tests at the Steelphalt Academy training complex.

"It’s the worst I’ve ever known it,” Wilder said. “Nearly everyone seems to have an issue of some sort, and they’re mostly problems we wouldn’t have been able to do anything to prevent.”

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