'You’d be going ballistic at your wide players' . . . 'I think he’ll turn it around' . . . what former Manchester United star and other pundits said after Sheffield United's defeat to Manchester City
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The Blades have now been defeated in six of their opening seven league games this season and are in 18th place in the embryonic Premier League table with just a solitary point to their name.
United failed to create many chances in the game with ‘up for sale’ John Lundstram having Chris Wilder’s side’s best chance when he blazed over Ederson’s goal in the 70th minute.
Speaking after the defeat, the Blades manager said: “We turned it over far too often, we made poor decisions, some of them baffled me. We’re not punishing teams when we get into good positions."
But what did the pundits make of United’s latest setback and the news that Lundstram could be set for pastures new in the coming months? Let’s take a look.
Rio Ferdinand, former England defender and BT Sport pundit
"I think he’ll turn it around," he said of Wilder. "Last season, everyone was marvelling at the fact that he came in and tactically, he did things differently and got big results with it.
"There’s a contrast between where they were at this stage last season in comparison to now, but I think he’ll take some sort of comfort that they are getting into good areas and it’s just about the quality.
"They’re getting into the positions, but their quality when they get there, hasn’t been good enough.
"Listen, they’ve lost 1-0 to a very good team, yes, City were the better team but it was only 1-0. They’ll take some comfort in that, but there’s a lot to do still."
And speaking on the situation regarding Lundstram’s potential departure from the Lane, Ferdinand said: “He’ll be thinking this is one of his last opportunities to get a really big contract, he’s at a position where he’s got the opportunity to have a free transfer and he’s going to look after himself rather than thinking about the team and the club. It’s about him, it’s his opportunity to earn a much bigger wage.”
Alan Shearer, former England striker and Match of the Day pundit
Speaking about United’s inability to create chances, he said: “Their first thought is to move it sideways, not once does a Sheffield United player look forward. They should open their bodies up, try to put the ball in because there are players in there. There is no point the forwards being in there if the ball isn’t going to go in.
“Brewster wants the ball whipped across the near post. You’ve got two £20m strikers there in Brewster and McBurnie, who had no service whatsoever because of their reluctance to put balls in there. Whip it in, someone will get onto the end of it, put in the danger area.
“But no, they don’t want to do that and that’s why Sheffield United continue to struggle. They won’t score goals if they continue to play like this, not putting it in there at all.
"Otherwise, if you’re a forward, you’re just going to stop running because the ball isn’t coming in. It’s so, so easy for the Man City defenders because the balls weren’t coming in. They’re never going to score unless they start doing that."
“They should be going mad in the dressing room. I’m sure Chris Wilder has spotted that. They have to change otherwise they are never going to score.”
Michael Brown, former Sheffield United midfielder and BT Sport pundit
The ex-Bladesman disagrees with Ferdinand and backs Wilder’s stance over Lundstram, saying: “I think what we’ve got to understand with John Lundstram is that he’ll have never have seen the higher heights of wages so we have to take a little bit of pinch of salt with what he’s trying to achieve.
“With the football club, they’ve got a real sensible wage structure, they don’t pay like other Premier League clubs, and he has to fit in line with that.
“It’s all about the team at Sheffield United and, as they went up into the Premier League, a few players tried it and he moved them aside.
"He didn’t take that, it was the team first, and it’s now the same with John Lundstram.”
Troy Deeney, Watford striker and talkSPORT presenter
Speaking about Wilder’s straight-talking in his post-match press conference, the Hornets frontman said: “His post-match interviews are quality. The fact that he’s come out and used quotes such as ‘if people think we can go toe-to-toe with Man City, they’re deluded, really deluded’ (is great). He’s talking about trying to catch up with people that have spent a billion pounds.
"He’s very real with what he says but also criticises people in a way that doesn’t cause offence. He’s very clever the way he does it. I just think the way he did it (after the game) showed courage and, as a manager, you have a responsibility to show the players ‘look, I can take the blame just as much as you’. I thought it was very good. He’s obviously handled the Lundstram situation very well, as well.”
Gary Lineker, former England striker and Match of the Day presenter
"It’s easy to see what Sheffield United’s problem is, they’ve only scored three goals this season – two of which were penalties.”
And speaking to Shearer about United’s failure to put crosses into the box, he said: “I’ll say one thing, and I’ll know this will be as true of you as it was me, if that was happening to me when I was a centre forward I’d be going bonkers. You’d be going ballistic at your wide players.”
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