Sheffield United: Wilder can give Blades a competitive edge, says skipper Billy Sharp

Billy Sharp of Sheffield Utd
Billy Sharp of Sheffield Utd
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Billy Sharp was sure to choose his words carefully when asked about Chris Wilder, his new manager at Sheffield United.

“He was a... hard working and nasty player,” smiled Sharp, who watched from the Bramall Lane stands as Wilder enjoyed a second spell at United in the late 1990s.

“And I think he’ll put that into the squad here. At times last season, I don’t think we had enough nastiness and I think we accepted defeat a little too easily at times.

“I don’t think that will happen under Chris.

“He’s a winner - he’s come from being a champion in League Two with Northampton, after all - and he’ll bring a winning mentality with him.

“Hopefully, we can use that momentum in the early part of the season and it can take us forward.”

Sharp scored 21 goals last season in a disappointing campaign for United, which saw them finish 11th in the table and part company with Wilder’s predecessor, Nigel Adkins.

One of Wilder’s first moves as United boss was to name striker Sharp as club captain, and the homegrown Blades fan hopes United can develop a more consistent streak when the season gets underway on August 6.

“Football’s easy when you’re winning, but we didn’t control enough games when it was tight,” Sharp added.

“We sometimes needed a goal to give us a breather, and it was a very frustrating season.

“I said before that with the squad we had, we should have been going for automatic promotion - but we got nowhere near that, and couldn’t even get in the play-offs.

“We didn’t win enough games and couldn’t get any consistency going. We didn’t have the best of starts, losing 4-0 at Gillingham, but then we won four on the bounce and things were looking good.

“Then the month after was disappointing... and that’s how it went throughout the season.

“We’d lose a game at home and then go away chasing it, rather than just settling for a point sometimes.

“To play at Bramall Lane you have to be strong and disciplined and I think that, at times, not everyone handled that well enough.

“But that’s gone now; we’ll learn the lessons and, under a new manager, we’ll go again next season with the fans supporting us in numbers, I’m sure.”

United find out tomorrow who they’ll face on the opening day of the season, when the EFL fixtures are released.