Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has apologised to his players ahead of their Boxing Day fixture against Oldham Athletic.
Despite climbing to second in the League One table after being Coventry City last week, Wilder was critical of the visitors’ display at the Ricoh Arena, branding it as “perhaps their worst” in recent months.
But after reviewing the match in Warwickshire, which was interrupted by protests by sections of City’s support, he said: “Looking back, I might have been a little bit hard on the lads and I’ve told them that. The trouble is, they’ve set the bar so high lately that, when we fall below it, it always feels a little bit disappointing.
“At the end of the day, though, a win is a win. And that’s what they got. They went out there and, in very difficult circumstances, got the job done.”
Although Wilder is expecting a very different type of atmosphere when Oldham arrive at Bramall Lane on Boxing Day, he insisted United’s triumph over City “spoke volumes” about the character of his team. With home fans protesting against their club’s owners SISU, the fixture was twice held up due to pitch invasions while many blew whistles throughout the match.
“It was a really strange game,” Wilder said. “I actually found it quite difficult to focus and concentrate myself with everything that was going on and so, to be fair, the players will have felt the same out on the pitch. You were always waiting for something to happen and that made it tough. But the boys overcame a real challenge down there and the ability to do that is important.”
Centre-forwards Caolan Lavery and Leon Clarke both impressed after coming-off the bench at City and could be set for starting roles over the Christmas period.
“They both made a good impression,” Wilder said. “And, when you come on, that has to be the aim.”