Sheffield United: Chris Wilder hails Blades' "phenomenal" support ahead of sell-out Boxing Day clash with Sunderland

Blades chief Chris Wilder
Blades chief Chris Wilder
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Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has described his club's support as "phenomenal" as Boxing Day’s game against Sunderland approaches a sell-out.

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has described his club's support as "phenomenal" as Boxing Day’s game against Sunderland approaches a sell-out.

And, despite acknowledging the visitors are now a much tougher proposition than the team United beat on Wearside earlier this term, he predicted the backing of a 30,000 plus crowd can inspire the hosts to their first victory since November 17.

"It's amazing, phenomenal to be honest, the way our fans get behind the boys," he said. "It's been a huge factor in our start to the season and a massive help to what we are trying to achieve. Knowing you've got that behind you, I can't explain what a boost that is."

Despite slipping from first to seventh in less than six weeks, Wilder cited United's performance during Saturday's draw with Aston Villa as a sign that an upturn in results is not far away.

"I've brought it up before and I'll bring it up again," he continued, "If any group deserves cutting a bit of slack it's this one because they are giving absolutely everything. They've earned that right, without a shadow of a doubt, given the attitude and effort they've shown. If you look at some of the sides we've competed with, more than competed with in fact, with the (financial) resources they've got at their disposal it speaks volumes."

Clayton Donaldson scored twice during September's 2-1 victory at the Stadium of Light and claimed another brace at Villa Park. Sunderland, who were relegated from the Premier League last term, travel to South Yorkshire ranked 22nd but having improved following Chris Coleman's appointment as manager last month.

"We give everyone the same amount of respect," Wilder said. "But, yes, you could say it's become a more difficult game because they've picked-up. I don't know Chris that well, I've met him through some people I know once or twice, but he's a good manager and we'll have to be at our best."

With John Fleck missing through suspension and David Brooks ruled-out through illness, United are continuing to hold talks with Southend aimed at signing their midfielder Ryan Leonard. The 25-year-old, who is known to be keen on joining Wilder's squad, refused to extend his contract at Roots Hall when United first made their interest known during the summer transfer window.

"We want to keep improving and building on what we've done," Wilder said. "But the most important thing, as far as we're concerned right now, is the next match coming up."