SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Chris Wilder has urged his players to ignore the “noise and nonsense” surrounding the race for the Premier League.
The Blades are locked in a three-way scrap for automatic promotion along with Leeds United and leaders Norwich City.
Victory at Elland Road in their last outing means Wilder’s United host Bristol City today occupying second place, four points behind the Canaries and one ahead of Yorkshire rivals Leeds.
With Marcelo Bielsa’s men also on home soil against Millwall and Norwich travelling to Middlesbrough for the tea-time kick-off, the White Rose county is set to host another fascinating chapter in the push for the top flight.
For his part, Wilder is ordering the Blades players to block out anything other than their own performances in these final five weeks of the campaign.
“There is so much noise and nonsense,” the 51-year-old told The Yorkshire Post. “People talk about how, ‘It is theirs to lose’ and all that.
“But there is still a lot of football to play, still a fifth of the season to go.
“The defining moments will come later than now. All we are trying to do is win another difficult game of football.”
Leeds will be desperate to bounce back against Millwall after losing 1-0 against the Blades a fortnight ago.
In the aftermath of the winning goal from Chris Basham that sparked such joyous scenes between the visiting players and supporters at Elland Road, striker Patrick Bamford questioned whether the Blades “already think they are up”.
It is not a charge anyone at Bramall Lane is likely to accept, Wilder in particular insisting there is a long way to go.
The Blades chief added: “The words ‘twists and turns’, I bet you guys in the media will tear the a*** off that one between now and the end of the season. Players when they get beat or players when they win, you hear it all. You heard it after the Leeds game. It is boring and predictable.
“The players reacted as they always do away from home. They acknowledged the supporters who are always loud and proud away from home.”
Leeds will be hoping to punish any slip-up by the Blades when tackling Millwall.
There is still a lot of football to play, still a fifth of the season to go. The defining moments will come later than now. All we are trying to do is win another difficult game of football.Sheffield United boss, Chris Wilder
Marcelo Bielsa is without goalkeeper Kiko Castilla following his red card in the defeat to Wilder’s United a fortnight ago.
Asked if the Blades now had a psychological advantage ahead of the run-in, the Argentinian replied: “Always I feel uncomfortable when I have to evaluate the other teams.
“I am making this analysis, but I don’t want to take merit away from the performance of the other team that won the last game. At the end, they came to Elland Road and won in an important game.
“It is difficult to think that after their win it can be a situation where they feel a disadvantage.
“The thing which creates an optimistic feeling for me is every game we have to leave forgetting the next games we are going to play.
“Before any game we have to ask if we are in a good condition to win the game. Then, you find this answer while watching what the team is able to do.
“The last message was a positive one from the team. Maybe the first 35 minutes against Sheffield United were the best minutes from the team this year, considering what we produced and considering the quality and the defence of the opponent team.”
Boro, of course, can not only do both Leeds and the Blades a favour by beating Norwich in the tea-time kick-off but also themselves after a tough run for Tony Pulis’s men.
Nevertheless, Wilder insists every game is going to be tough for the sides chasing automatic promotion.
“Even teams in No Man’s Land, they still have that professional pride,” he said when asked about the run-in. “We would, because we would want momentum going into next year.
“That personal and professional pride, you need it, because these jobs aren’t handed out. That is the case for teams trying to stay in the division, teams trying to get momentum and for the teams chasing a place in the play-offs and automatic promotion.”
United previews: Pages 2-3