Sheffield United: Chris Wilder issues a fresh challenge to his players

Chris Wilder is not prepared to settle for second best: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Chris Wilder is not prepared to settle for second best: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has admitted he will demand even more from his players next season, despite insisting they have exceeded expectations in the Championship this term.

Despite possessing one of the division’s smallest budgets, United retained a mathematical chance of securing a top six finish until the penultimate match of the campaign.

Sheffield United's players are being urged to raise the bar even higher next season: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Sheffield United's players are being urged to raise the bar even higher next season: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

But speaking ahead of Sunday’s visit to Bristol City, which marks his team’s final outing of 2017/18, Wilder revealed why he is preparing to set the bar even higher following their game at Ashton Gate.

“We have to improve,” Wilder said. “Supporters demand it. I demand it. I want us to be ambitious and better.

“I don’t want us to be a spike team. For most of the last 20 odd months, it’s been an upward curve. I want that to continue.

“You can’t take your eye off the ball. You can’t think you’ve cracked it. We’ve enjoyed being in the limelight. We have enjoyed the focus being on us. We want that to continue.”

Wilder has enjoyed almost unparalleled levels of success since being appointed two years ago. Having led United to promotion from League One at the first time of asking, his squad quickly adapted to Championship football after six seasons in the third tier. Although United, who were top of the table in November, ultimately proved unable to maintain their explosive start, Wilder recently praised the team for “giving absolutely everything” and bucking the financial trend.

“The thing that really pleases me is that we’ve got a really honest group here,” he said. “They work hard, they always put a shift in and it’s impossible to under-estimate the effort they put in. Yes, we have fall-outs. Yes, I get into them. But when we have words, we’re best mates again. And I’d pay money to watch them, I really would.”

United travel to the south-west 11th in the table and Wilder added: “You’ve got to keep going and keep moving forward. You’ve got to try and squeeze more out of everything, whether that be staff, facilities or most importantly the players.

“At the end of the season, we will analyse. We’ve learnt some valuable lessons and we’ve got to act on those. We will know what we need to do to be better.”