There must have been times this season when Chris Wilder, whose budget suggests Sheffield United should be languishing in the lower reaches of the table rather than attempting to reach the Premier League, surveyed the opposition’s team sheet and sighed with resignation.
Fulham have Aleksander Mitrovic, the on-loan Newcastle centre-forward who pockets a reported £60,000 a week. Wolverhampton Wanderers, bankrolled by one of the largest conglomerate’s in China. Well, where do you start?
Fortunately, as results this season confirm, United’s manager is adept at finding ways to beat the financial odds. However, as he explained ahead of tomorrow’s rearranged fixture against Burton Albion, fathoming how is a 24/7 job.
“I’m always thinking and I’m always trying to find a way,” he said. “I’m always trying to find ways of doing it. I try and we will always try. People across the country, across Europe and the world, are trying to do that. To try and bridge that gap and give themselves the chance.”
The visit of an Albion side led by his predecessor Nigel Clough represents one of those rare occasions when Wilder, whose side are only five points behind the Championship play-off positions, has greater resources at his disposal than the opposition. At Craven Cottage, where United lost 3-0 before Saturday’s draw with Ipswich Town, he found himself on much more familiar turf.
Despite the scoreline, Wilder said: “Sometimes, you might think bridging the gap is impossible. It can be difficult, yes. But you try and bridge it through team spirit, organisation and recruitment. What gives you the belief is having honest players which we have here without a doubt.
“Players that put in full tilt performances and give their all. Everyone, across Europe, is trying to make up that financial disparity and some are incurring huge losses, as we have seen, in the process.”