Sheffield United: ‘We didn’t celebrate going top of the Championshop because we’re chasing perfection’

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder wants perfection
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder wants perfection

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, revealed his players refused to celebrate returning to the top of the Championship because they felt their performance against Wigan Athletic left a lot to be desired.

Paul Cook, Wilder's opposite number, described United as "the best team" in the division after Billy Sharp's hat-trick and a Chey Dunkley own goal saw them finish the weekend two points clear of second-placed Leeds.

Although Wilder repaid the compliment - "His sides always play excellent football" - the 51-year-old said: "There’s still things we need to do, we are not there. We are not an arrogant team, the players were a little bit subdued in there afterwards. They understand that they weren’t at their best, there’s no kidding them, they are good honest footballers.

"From my point, I thought the scoreline was flattering for us."

Contrasting United's display with the one they produced during Tuesday's draw with Stoke City, a match they dominated for long periods but failed to win, Wilder added: "There was a little bit of realism in the changing room after the game. 

"There were a lot of really good things on Tuesday night, but not so many good things today. But you are not always going to be at your best, and you never turn a win down.

"I am after perfection in what we do. We have to strive for that, being good from box to box, and in both boxes, being good for 95 minutes, under pressure, on top. We ask that question all the time, and we have to. If we settle for mediocrity, then possibly that is where you end up or even below that."

Wigan attacked United during the early exchanges and appeared to be heading in at half-time time on level terms until Sharp scored his first of the afternoon after Kai Naismith had cancelled-out Dunkley's own goal. Another quickly followed after the interval before the United captain claimed his first three goal haul in a decade. Joe Garner netted a consolation for Wigan, who slip to 14th, during the closing stages.

"It’s a great complement from Paul, because all his sides play excellent football," Wilder said, after Cook insisted 'whoever finishes above United will go up in my book.'"

"We told the players it was going to be a dangerous game, because they were never going to sit back. 

"They have quality, Josh Windass and (Nick) Powell, who I hope is alright now, but when he was coming off injured I was relieved because he is a really good player. They came and had a go, and were better than us in the first half.

"It wasn’t an easy ride and I was delighted when the final whistle went."

Defender John Egan (hamstring) and Mark Duffy (hip) watched the match from the stands after being ruled-out through injury. Although Wilder expects Egan to return against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, he admitted a decision will be taken on Duffy "at the back end of the week."

"We went with three centre-forwards, with David McGoldrick going in there (for Duffy)," he said. "It's a tough role because Duff makes it look easy, he's been playing it for two and a half seasons now, so perhaps that hit our rhythm a little bit. But we got the result and I was delighted for the players."