'They just lack that bit of quality' - what former Man City man and other pundits said about Sheffield United's defeat to Chelsea
Sheffield United’s defeat to Chelsea last night certainly had a familiar feel to it.
It was yet again a loss by a single goal – the 13th in total this season for the Premier League’s bottom side – and once more an individual error was at the heart of the Blades’ latest setback.
The result leaves Chris Wilder's side 12 points from safety and with it all on to beat the drop with just 15 games remaining, but the United manager said his players could ‘take great heart’ from their battling performance against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea.
“I’ve told the boys afterwards that they can take something away with them from this,” he said.
"Our attitude has given us opportunities in the past and it’s giving us opportunities now.
“I’m not in there telling them how great they’ve been because we’re honest and we were disappointed with their goals, especially the timing of them.
"But picking those pieces out, I am human and I feel for the players because they are giving everything. There are some really big challenges ahead of us and we’re not thinking ‘x,y and z’. But the really big thing to realise is that we’ve seen the back of some really huge clubs.”
However, what did the pundits make of the Blades’ latest setback?
Let’s take a look.
Stephen Warnock, former Liverpool defender and guest on Sky Sports’ The Football Show
“They’re definitely running out of time. The results for Newcastle and Brighton in the last week and a half have probably damaged their chances of survival.
"Don’t get me wrong, they had a couple of fantastic results against Manchester United and Manchester City but it does seem too little, too late.
"It does seem it’s going to be very, very difficult for them to get themselves out of that poor start they found themselves in.
"13 games Sheffield United have lost by just one goal. The Premier League record is 15.
"I know what you’re saying about the goal margins, there are sometimes when you go back in as a manager, you’ve got something to hang onto there and say to the players ‘listen it’s fine margins that you’re losing the game by.’
“But when there has been that many, that’s the disappointing thing and they just don’t seem to have that game changer who's capable of changing a game every single game.
"They have players who step up from time to time but there is not a consistent player who’s there to do it consistently.”
Francis Benali, ex-Southampton defender and guest on Sky Sports News
"It was always going to be a tough ask but it’s another game gone now, another game where they haven’t picked up any points.
"They won’t ever stop fighting – that’s just in their make up – and Chris Wilder wouldn’t allow anything else so whilst there’s always hope mathematically, they’ll stick at it, but you’ve got to say it’s very much one eye firmly on next season for them."
Micah Richards, former Manchester City defender and Sky Sports studio guest
"They can be encouraged by the spirit but ultimately if you don’t score goals (you’ve got a problem). Look at (Oliver) Burke’s chance in the first half. He should be hitting the target, there.
"They just lack that bit of quality. Last season they were fresh and had (Jack) O’Connell who has been a big miss for them. He was inspirational last season.
"Chris Wilder talks about how they have to be at it every single time.
“(But) they seem (to have been) sussed out now. Everybody has seen what they can do and it’s difficult (for them). What I do like about them is their fighting spirit.
"They always seem to be in games – they’ve lost a lot of games by just one goal – and they will keep fighting on.
"That’s Sheffield United and they are emboldened by the manager and the attitude he has. Have they got enough to stay up? At this moment I’m not sure because they’re not scoring enough goals.”
Jermaine Jenas, ex-Tottenham Hotspur midfielder and Match of the Day studio guest
“It’s a shame for them because they had found a little bit of form. I’m just never convinced (that they have enough) at the top end and that they have got what it takes to win games of football.
“It’s what’s going to cost them. (You only have to) look at their position in the league. They have invested the money without the return.”
Graeme Souness, former Liverpool midfielder and Sky Sports studio guest on Chelsea’s penalty
“I don’t know what to say about penalties and referees anymore. I hate using 'the modern game' it suggests we are playing a totally different game nowadays. I'll put it this way, that is the kind of play that has crept into our football.
"People will call it cute, simulation... he's ran into him today. And the biggest problem I have with that is he made no attempt to avoid the goalkeeper, he ran into him and he could have badly damaged him.
"If he'd caught him with his knee (Ramsdale) would have been in hospital. Fortunately, he caught him with his thigh.
“You can call it cute, I see it as really dangerous play.”
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