Sheffield United boss fires Premier League warning to Leicester, Ipswich, Southampton after season of struggle

1.59 points-per-game1.59 points-per-game
1.59 points-per-game | AFP via Getty Images
Chris Wilder fires Premier League warning to promoted sides after Sheffield United’s season of struggle

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has warned the Championship’s three promoted teams that it is harder than ever to establish a foothold in the Premier League after the Blades’ sorry season of top-flight struggle. United made an instant return to the second tier after finishing bottom of the table, conceding more than 100 goals in the process to set an unwanted Premier League record.

Both Wilder and his predecessor Paul Heckingbottom had their hands tied financially but the levels of the division have also risen hugely since the Blades’ last spell in the Premier League a couple of years earlier. Luton and Burnley, the two promoted sides alongside United, also suffered instant relegation, with Leicester, Ipswich Town and play-off winners Southampton hoping to avoid the same fate next season.

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With Leicester and Southampton holding on to much of the talent that they came down with a year earlier, the transition may be easier - but Ipswich, who have bounced from League One into the Premier League in successive seasons, it will be a real eye-opener.  

“The Prem has got even tougher,” Wilder said. “Every season it moves on and so do most of the other teams in it. Money-wise, the differences are obvious. Especially for those of us who haven’t been up there for 10 years or so before coming back. But the standard of player, right the way throughout, just keeps on rising and rising as well. That, for me, is one of the biggest differences.”

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Back in 2019/20 Wilder’s United attacked the Premier League and were unlikely European contenders before Covid-19 struck and halted the season. By the time football resumed their momentum had been shot and they soon returned to the Championship, while clubs above them only got stronger and stronger.

“As more and more money comes in, your clubs who are regarded as in the second rung of the Premier League are bringing in players who, not so long ago, would have been beyond their reach,” Wilder added, via SportsBoom.com. “It wasn’t that long back, for the clubs coming up, that you could look at teams outside of the top six or so and think ‘We’ve got a real chance there'.

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"That’s changing, the gap is getting wider, and you have to find other ways of competing. Which unfortunately we weren’t able to do. We take ownership of what happened to us. But what I would say to everyone coming up is: ‘Well done, but you’re going to be in for a bigger surprise than maybe you realise.’

 “That’s just the way it is. I reckon, even from a few years ago now, it’s even more difficult to come up and then stay up. Sometimes, people don’t understand how difficult it is to even get to the Prem in the first place. But with the way football is going, actually being able to stay there is only going to become even more difficult.

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“Most of the teams who come up, unless they’ve got a really rich history there, are going to struggle to compete financially so you’ve got to find other ways of doing that. You’ve got to try and be a bit clever. Find a niche.”

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