Chris Wilder’s blunt approach at Sheffield United sharpens the Blades

Dean Henderson of Sheffield Utd reacts after conceding to Liverpool. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Dean Henderson of Sheffield Utd reacts after conceding to Liverpool. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
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TREATING footballers as adults and refusing to massage egos or mollycoddle individuals has – and always will be – a key strand of Chris Wilder’s managerial approach.

Whether that be at The Shay, Halifax or Bramall Lane, Sheffield.

Searing honesty will always be delivered. Consistency prevails, favouritism does not come into the equation and players totally know where they stand. There are no grey areas.

It is why Wilder’s dressing-room environment has been strong at Sheffield United.

After his high-profile error last weekend against Liverpool, when he allowed Gini Wijnaldum’s shots to go through his legs to gift the visitors a 1-0 victory, Dean Henderson will have known that his manager would not be sympathetic or attempt to gloss over it.

Crucially, neither would he have probably wanted him to be. In the final analysis, players – good, solid players at any rate – will always accept home truths.

Overlooked in the latest England squad announced on Thursday afternoon, Henderson must now deal with that.

His manager will always be a supporter, just do not expect sympathy; only straight-talk, perspective and reality. Deal with it..

Wilder, speaking ahead of the Three Lions’ announcement, said: ‘He knows it is a tough week. There is nobody more disappointed than him. But that is the lonely world of a football goalkeeper.

“Gareth (Southgate) looks at the bigger picture as well. He knows young men make mistakes; (it is) how does he recover from it?

“Dean has come roaring back when he has made mistakes (before). I have got no problems with Dean, none whatsoever. If he gets in, brilliant. If he does not, it is not the end of his career is it?”

It should also surprise no-one that Wilder has not deviated from his views in his post-match view on Henderson’s mistake.

His forthright style of man-management, exemplified when he said that he was not going to hold Henderson’s hand or ‘rub his head’ following his costly faux pas has even have been the source of considerable discourse on the airwaves and TV this week.

Wilder has been listening, but he will not be losing any sleep over it; perish the thought.

He added: “I would like to think my record here shows I can man-manage. Also at Northampton and Halifax, when players were not being paid...

“It (the Premier League) is obviously bigger in terms of coverage. When I am in the car, I am usually listening to what is going on in the world of sport.

“It is not Peaky Blinders at home, it is sport. This is where we want to be. The Premier League is the main talking point.

“Sometimes I think people just say something to create debate.

“The players, Dean included, are mentally tough. Especially with where they have come from. They are tough guys and we create a tough mentality.

“But I have got to say, I am the biggest supporter of these boys. Dean knows that. Some of the stuff that gets talked about, I agree with. As for other stuff, I think it is noise and nonsense.”

Henderson’s place in an international senior squad may still have to wait, but there was welcome news this week for John Fleck, who has secured his place back in the Scotland party for their Euro 2020 qualifiers with Russia and San Marino.

For Wilder, it was a wholly justified call for the Glaswegian, while adding the caveat that one area of his game – namely the goalscoring department – remains a work in progress.

On Fleck, who was denied a goal by a last-ditch challenge from international team-mate Andy Robertson last week, said: “John has come back very strong (from injury) and positive in his performances. (But) we feel he can do a little bit better at the top of the pitch.

“Hopefully that confidence of playing in the Premier League will help him with that.

“Every level he has played at, he has embraced and moved forward. The Scotland call is a great reward for him.”

Wilder confirmed that tomorrow’s top-flight trip to Watford comes too early for David McGoldrick, who has missed the last two league games with a groin niggle, but he could link up with the Republic of Ireland squad ahead of their internationals against Georgia and Switzerland.

One player firmly in the reckoning at Vicarage Road after serving his ban after his red card against Southampton is captain Billy Sharp – eager to make up for lost time, according to Wilder.

He added: “I have had a chat with Bill and he will say he was unlucky. I thought he did not need to do it and we could have done with him around.

“He is an obvious finisher and a really good player. He has played in a ‘bounce game’ and he is raring to go.

“It has come a bit too quick for Didzy (McGoldrick). We are in co-operation with the Republic of Ireland. It is important that the relationship is strong and it is.

“We have to do the best for David; he might go over with the squad and we will find out in next couple of days so they can (may) have a look at him.

“He is getting closer, we will see what is what, but if we can get him fit for Mick (McCarthy), we will try to.”