Sheffield United: Chris Wilder makes a surprising admission about his team’s target this season

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder and his staff are talking about survival, not promotion, at this stage of the season
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder and his staff are talking about survival, not promotion, at this stage of the season

When Sheffield United play host to Wigan Athletic at Bramall Lane this weekend, Chris Wilder insists they will be battling for survival rather than a place in the Premier League.

Despite remaining level on points with leaders Middlesbrough following yesterday’s draw with Stoke City, United's manager has insisted retaining Championship status is still his squad's number one priority ahead of Saturday's meeting with Paul Cook's side.

Although Wilder's attempt to rewrite the narrative of United's season is undoubtedly a psychological ploy, it also represents an acknowledgement of the fact his players are punching above their financial weight in a division where some clubs now routinely spend more than £10m on a single player.

Benik Afobe, who spearheaded City's attack in South Yorkshire, will complete a £12m transfer to the Britannia Stadium in January.

"When we reach our first target of 50 points in the division, that's when we'll consider something else," Wilder said. "That's got to be our first target because we are battling it out against some powerful clubs. We're going toe to toe with them and a little bit better."

"Everybody else should be looking at 50 points," he added. "If we get to that, then we'll address it then."

Leon Clarke scored Sheffield United's goal during last night's draw with Stoke City

Leon Clarke scored Sheffield United's goal during last night's draw with Stoke City

Wilder's comments mirror the ones he made almost 12 months ago as United laid the foundations for a play-off challenge. Despite eventually finishing 10th, six points behind sixth-placed Derby County, results made a mockery of suggestions they were ill-equipped for second tier football after winning promotion less than a year earlier.

"All the points we've got, we've earned them," Wilder said. "Listen, I'm not looking at it through rose tinted specs because possibly we'll have a game (like Stoke) where we nick something. But we've not had one of those so far to my mind."

Wigan Athletic visit Bramall Lane on Saturday

Wigan Athletic visit Bramall Lane on Saturday