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Sheffield United: ‘Focus on your job, not the theatrics’ players are told

Mark Duffy was spoken to after the defeat by Birmingham City: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Mark Duffy was spoken to after the defeat by Birmingham City: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Sheffield United’s senior players are being encouraged to comment on the performance of their team mates ahead of Saturday’s game with Preston North End, manager Chris Wilder has admitted.

The revelation comes after Wilder confirmed he took Mark Duffy to task following last weekend’s defeat at Birmingham City, which saw the visitors slip to 11th in the Championship table with only two fixtures remaining.

Duffy was accused of firing-up the crowd at St Andrews after opening the scoring against his former club before strikes from Marc Roberts and Jacques Maghoma left United’s play-off hopes hanging by a thread.

Wilder said: “They should self police themselves. Duff is a senior player and I’ve had a pop at him. He didn’t need to get the supporters on his back and get the crowd revved up. He’s done the hard bit by scoring. Don’t antagonise people.

“Just be a good player and score another. But it’s been said now. We won’t add anything more to it.”

Although Wilder was keen to draw a line under the incident, his words provided an insight into the dynamic he has created behind the scenes since taking charge at Bramall Lane 23 months ago. The 50-year-old, whose side are five points behind sixth placed Derby County, retains the last word on issues including tactics, team shape and selection policy. But the likes of Duffy, Leon Clarke and captain Billy Sharp are also expected to contribute to the debate. Providing, Wilder explained, they accept their colleagues can respond in kind.

“We want people to say what they think,” he said, as United prepare for their final home match of the campaign. “It’s healthy but we ultimately decide what happens.”