'Sheffield United don’t look like they’ll ever score again' - the pundits' verdict on Blades' defeat to West Ham

Sheffield United’s hopes of preserving their Premier League status are hanging by a thread after being comfortably beaten by West Ham United last night.
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The 3-0 defeat at the London Stadium was Chris Wilder’s side’s 19th in 24 league games and leaves them 14 points adrift of safety with just 14 matches remaining.

To compound their woe on a miserable night in the East End, United are now waiting to discover the seriousness of an injury suffered by defender John Egan in the closing stages of the game.

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The 28-year-old Irishman was carried off on a motorised cart after appearing to suffer a serious foot injury in making an attempted block on Jesse Lingard five minutes from time.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder. (Photo by JOHN SIBLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder. (Photo by JOHN SIBLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder. (Photo by JOHN SIBLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

And Wilder, speaking to the media after the game, revealed how he’d had ‘tough talks’ with his players following yet another defeat which featured more individual mistakes.

“We create chances. We don’t take them. We make mistakes. We get punished,” said Wilder.

"It epitomises the past five months or so. I must bore Al (assistant manager Alan Knill) and the rest of the staff by saying the same things all the time. But those are the things that are happening.

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“This is not a shape issue. It’s not a tactical thing. It is straightforward things that are costing us. We had more possession than them, but they (West Ham) don’t make mistakes.”

But what did the pundits make of United’s latest defeat which leaves them on the verge of relegation back to the Championship?

Let’s take a look at what they’ve been saying.

Lee Dixon, former Arsenal and England defender and BBC 5Live match summariser

"Sheffield United don’t look like they’ll ever score again and that’s been their major problem all season – (they’ve scored) only 15 goals, and you can see why.

"They had chances tonight. McGoldrick could have had three. The volley in the first half that we were disappointed with (because) he didn’t hit the target – it was an easy chance to get on target.

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"He had two headers in the second half . . . another half chance, and you think they need to go in.

"They’ve got to start picking up points and you just think it’s too big of a mountain to climb now because they’re not scoring.

"If they were scoring goals and letting goals in, you can tidy up at the back. The hardest think to do on a football pitch is put the ball in the net and they’ve only done it 15 times and you just see that time is running out for them.

"But you know Chris Wilder won’t give up and his team won’t give up.”

Danny Mills, ex-Leeds United defender and guest on Sky Sports’ Football Show

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"It just hasn’t happened for them this season. Last season was absolutely exceptional, maybe adrenaline, partly down to fans being around, all the things that happened to them were just fantastic.

"That hasn’t happened (this season), they can’t score goals. They didn’t really score goals last season, that was always their problem – I think the top scorer had six.

"They’ve tried to address that situation by bringing in strikers and they haven’t scored enough goals and that’s their problem.

"If you rely on being very, very tight at the back, not conceding too many but because then you don’t score too many and winning games by the odd goal – you’re on a knife-edge all the time.

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"It doesn’t take a lot for that to go wrong and that’s what happened this season.”

Danny Murphy, former Liverpool midfielder and co-presenter on talkSPORT Drive on Wilder’s post-match comments

"I always think it’s refreshing to see a manager be honest and frank about his side’s performance. I think we’ve seen both sides of him.

"At times he’s been really complimentary about his team and stuck up for them.

"But there are times when you watch games as a manager and whether you feel like you should or you shouldn’t, you have to be honest about it because otherwise you’re trying to pull the wool over fans’ eyes when they’ve just seen what you’ve seen.

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"So, I’ve always admired his honesty and I think his players are probably used to it by now.”

Rio Ferdinand, ex-Manchester United defender and BT Sport pundit

“I think (Wilder) seemed dejected. When you see his interviews afterwards . . . frustration is probably another good word to explain it all and describe how he seems and he comes across.

“Last season he was very jovial – obviously results are very different – but I think after last season, I think the frustration lies (off the pitch) and I don’t think they’ve invested in the squad or he’s being able to invest financially to make a team that stays in this league.

"It seems like they’re preparing for next season and I don’t think that’s his decision. You’ve heard him mention the board numerous times in interviews recently and I think the investment within the team and the infrastructure within the club hasn’t been to the levels he expected it to be after the first season they had (in the Premier League).”

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