Thirty shots but no goals - so why have Sheffield United drawn a blank in their last two games?
Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has admitted his strikers are suffering from a lack of confidence after watching them miss a series of chances in recent weeks.
Despite enjoying 30 shots on goal during their games against West Ham and West Bromwich Albion, United drew a blank in both of those fixtures and enter Sunday’s meeting with Leicester City having scored only four times all season.
With those disappointing returns a major factor behind their poor results so far this term - United have lost nine and drawn one of their 10 outings since the new campaign began three months ago - Wilder admitted a review of recent performances suggests self-belief, not a lack of ability, is the reason for his team’s profligacy.
“It’s got to be a composure and confidence situation,” he said. “Players tighten up when they have an opportunity to score. Chances in this division usually come at a premium so to create the number we have of late and not take one of them, well, that’s unbelievable really.”
United are the joint-lowest scorers in England’s leading five divisions, with Burnley also finding the back of the net on four occasions since competition resumed in August. Although they were far from prolific during the 2019/20 campaign - averaging only 1.03 goals per match - United’s lack of cutting edge has been exposed by a series of individual errors in defence, with the two combining to leave them at the foot of the rankings and gnaw away at morale behind the scenes.
In order to prevent the pressure on his squad’s shoulders becoming intolerable, Wilder has sought to remind his players how they “proved” themselves worthy of becoming top-flight professionals by finishing ninth after being promoted from the Championship last year.
But he acknowledged: “You have to be clinical in this division. If you don’t take your chances, you don’t get anything out of a game. You can look at composure and technique, but maybe it’s just confidence.”
“These lads have shown what they can do,” Wilder added. “They don’t have to prove themselves to me, because they’ve already proved themselves.”