Just champion: Chris Wilder toasts title-winning Sheffield United for crowning glory

MANAGER Chris Wilder believes the manner in which Sheffield United swept aside Bradford City with a champion showing was made all the more remarkable by his players having spent the previous 'three or four days' toasting their success.

Sheffield United, champions of League One (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

The Blades made light work of their Yorkshire rivals as a double from Leon Clarke and Billy Sharp’s 199th career goal clinched a comfortable 3-0 win.

It brought a club record 28th league victory of the season for United, who Wilder admits had been allowed to mark the title win with plenty of celebratory drinks.

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“That first half was up there in terms of our best this season,” said the Blades chief, “and when you consider the boys have been on it (alcohol) for three or four days, that is impressive.

Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd sprays champagne over his players during the English League One match at Bramall Lane Stadium, Sheffield. (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

“I said (to the players after the title was clinched on Saturday), ‘Go for it’. You have to. Plus, I have been on it, too, and will continue to do so.

“I have just said to the boys in the dressing room, ‘Sports science is out the window for the next two or three days – eat and drink what you want because you deserve it’. They will be back in for training on Thursday.”

United’s couple of days off are richly deserved. Against a Bradford side who started the day hoping to pile the pressure on second-placed Bolton Wanderers by slashing the gap between the two clubs to a solitary point, the Blades put in a rampant first-half showing.

Stuart McCall’s men, who welcomed the champions on to the field before kick-off with a guard of honour, simply could not cope against a host side who played with passion and purpose in front of the live Sky cameras.

Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd and Billy Sharp of Sheffield Utd celebrate (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

Wilder, a Bradford player in the Nineties, was delighted with the respect shown by his former club and hopes the Bantams can make it a Yorkshire double in League One by going on to win promotion.

“We have beaten an excellent side,” added the Blades chief. “I have a lot of respect for Bradford City with my connections there. Personally, I hope they join us in the Championship next season. They are a class act.

“I got a couple of bottles of champagne from their chairman (Edin Rahic) and (chief operating officer) James Mason. I am thankful for that.

“And Stuart giving us the guard of honour was nothing I didn’t expect.

Billy Sharp leads out Sheffield United to a guard of honour formed by Bradford during the English League One match at Bramall Lane (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

“It is a class club and their supporters deserve to go up. I am sure they will have a right good go at it in the next three or four weeks.”

The elation felt by the home fans in a bumper 26,838 crowd was in stark contrast to the downcast mood among their City counterparts at the final whistle.

McCall’s decision to opt for a three-man defence backfired and he was forced to make a tactical change after just 22 minutes as the Blades took control.

“It was challenging,” said the former Scotland international. “I think Sheffield United showed why they are champions.

Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd sprays champagne over his players during the English League One match at Bramall Lane Stadium, Sheffield. (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

“They have got the best squad and the best team. If they are playing at the top of their game, they can do that to sides.

“Maybe we didn’t go with the right system. We wanted to play three up against them.

“I just didn’t think we could trust two centre-halves against Billy Sharp and the other striker, be it Leon Clarke or James Hanson (who missed the game with a calf strain).

“We put an extra one at the back and matched up systems. But I think the game was won and lost in both penalty boxes.

“They were clinical and we weren’t. When you have got Leon Clarke and Billy (Sharp), who have both done it at the top level, that is a big help.

“Sheffield United showed why they are top. When you come up against the best team, you need to be on top of your game and a few of us weren’t.

Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd and Billy Sharp of Sheffield Utd celebrate (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

“But that can’t be allowed to detract from what our aim is – and that is winning promotion.

“Congratulations to Sheffield United on winning the league, but we have got our own agenda. We can’t let a poor 45 minutes detract from what our aims are.”

As for the Blades, yesterday’s victory means the club remain on target to reach a century of points for the first time in their history.

“I just want us to win games,” added Wilder. “Whether it is 100 points or whatever, I just want us to win the next game and play well.”

Doncaster Rovers, meanwhile, still need six points to clinch the title after losing at home to Blackpool 1-0 as Plymouth thrashed Newport 6-1.

Reports and tables: Page 20

Billy Sharp leads out Sheffield United to a guard of honour formed by Bradford during the English League One match at Bramall Lane (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)