Why, despite being at the bottom of the Premier League table, Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder is still in awe of his team

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, says he is proud of the bravery his players are demonstrating despite seeing their hopes of Premier League survival slip away.

By James Shield
Friday, 26th February 2021, 6:00 am

Entering Sunday’s game against Liverpool knowing relegation beckons even if they beat the reigning champions, United’s squad appear destined to spend the rest of the season fighting to preserve their reputations rather than top-flight status following a troubled campaign at Bramall Lane.

Despite winning six of their last 11 outings in all competitions, a run which has seen them reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, Wilder’s side are 14 points adrift of safety with only 13 matches remaining after suffering a controversial defeat at Fulham last weekend.

But Wilder, who claimed United were denied a clear cut penalty during the closing stages of their visit to Craven Cottage, is impressed by the character being shown by a group which appears destined to begin next term back in the Championship.

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“Everyone is hurting because of the situation but, I tell you what, the bravery these lads are showing never ceases to amaze me and it makes me even more proud of them than I already am,” Wilder said. “Bravery in football comes in many forms. It’s about carrying on going, even when everything is stacked against you. It’s about going out there and giving everything, even when it’s not going for you. It’s about trying to get on the ball and not hiding, even when things are tough. They are doing all of those things and more.”

“No one of these boys have even hidden away from anything,” he continued. “They are confronting things head on. That’s bravery. And that’s why I know they can come through at the other end, because tough times don’t last forever. But tough people do.”

Liverpool are also in a miserable run of form ahead of their visit to South Yorkshire, after losing the Merseyside derby to Everton. But United’s hopes of causing an upset are being hampered by a selection crisis which threatens to rob them of all three of their first choice centre-halves. With Jack O’Connell and John Egan already ruled out of action, Chris Basham has joined them in the treatment room after suffering a suspected hamstring strain towards the end of the fixture in west London.

Wilder is expected to provide an update on Basham’s condition later today, when he faces journalists during his latest media briefing.

Chris Wilder is preparing his Sheffield United team to face Liverpool this weekend: David Klein/Sportimage

Sander Berge, who scored when United were beaten 2-1 at Anfield earlier this term, is also set to sit the game out, alongside Lys Mousset, Jack Robinson and Jack Rodwell.

“The lads keep getting set backs but they keep doing everything they can to pick themselves back up off the canvas,” Wilder said. “That takes guts, because I know plenty of people who would have just thrown the towel in by now. That’s why they’ll always get my backing, no matter what happens, so long as they keep doing it. Knowing them as I do, I know they will.”

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