'Sheffield United players look like they're in mourning' ... 'Lost their messiah' - Full transcript from MOTD2 pundits on post-Chris Wilder Blades after defeat to Leicester City
Life after Chris Wilder brought about the worst possible response from Sheffield United players, though perhaps understandably, as the Blades capped off a horrible week for the club by losing 5-0 at Leicester City.
United were torn apart by Brendan Rodgers side, never had a shot on target and conceded a glut of soft goals. Indeed, but for some decent goalkeeping and the odd bit of last-ditch defending, the result could have been even more embarrassing.
Paul Heckingbottom was in charge, drafted in at the last minute after completing a Covid test and there was really little he could do to lift a squad that looked bereft.
Analysing the game on Match of the Day 2 on Sunday night, the pundits in the end went easy on United’s players, knowing what it is like to be in that situation.
Former Tottenham player Jermaine Jenas and ex-Arsenal defender Martin Keown decided against ripping into the Blades for their abject display - described by skipper Billy Sharp as ‘the worst performance in the last five years’ – knowing what it is like to be in that situation.
Here’s the full transcript on how they described events of the past three days from a players’ perspective:
JJ: Myself and Martin from the kick-off, we could have had a completely different run here, of really poor, ill-disciplined, lack of professionalism at times, I felt, with the regards to the way they performed today, Sheffield United I think it's been an emotional week for the club all round, losing their leader, Chris Wilder. We, essentially, decided it's not the road we think we need to go down.
As players we understand those moments in our careers and it was a really tough one for those players today.
MK: They are in shellshock. Their messiah, their Sir Alex Ferguson really when you think about what he's done at that football club - he's their leader and today they just didn't look like they were really up for it. They were almost in mourning today. It came too close for them, the new manager coming in, didn't spend any time in preparation.
JJ: The fear is now, what next? This feels like a team to me that could be, potentially, completely dismantled. Chris Wilder was the one that dragged them up from League One, held them all together and they've lost that now.
MK: He gave them hope didn't he? He'd be out there facing the press conferences afterwards, looking to the next game, everyone got in behind him and he gave the group some hope for the future about bouncing back up as you've seen other managers do to good effect; Shaun Dyche is a good example. One wonders why they didn't stick with him - one day we'll find out but it's a big loss to the football club.