Sheffield United v Stoke City: Blades crave results, not respect

SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Chris Wilder has reinforced his 'points not plaudits' mantra after being forced to endure one of his biggest bugbears in management over the weekend.

The Blades blew the opportunity to return to the summit of the Championship by losing 2-1 to Derby County.

Defeat was harsh on United, a point underlined by the generous post-match praise afforded Wilder and his staff in Frank Lampard’s office on Saturday evening.

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These well-meant words, though, only served to fuel the 51-year-old’s sense of frustration after a 24-hour period that had seen six of the top seven beaten.

“One hundred per cent we want points not plaudits,” said Wilder to The Yorkshire Post ahead of tonight’s home fixture with pre-season promotion favourites Stoke City.

“That is our mentality. I have been a manager a long time and it is one of my biggest things. I want to play well, of course I do. I don’t want to be horrific and on the end of a 4-0 or something like that.

“But I hate sitting in the other manager’s office and people are talking about how well we played. Then, once back on the bus, we have nothing to show for the performance.

“I don’t want everyone jumping through hoops and thinking things are great if we played all right. We have to play well and win.”

Chris Basham of Sheffield United celebrates scoring the first-half equaliser against Derby. (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

The 2-1 loss at Pride Park was only the second time since the opening four days of the season that Wilder has found himself on the losing side.

“Derby are going to be right up there,” he added. “But I had a drink in the office and they were saying, ‘Apart from our result it has been a good day for you because all the other teams at the top lost’.

“It shows respect for where we are at. Whether we should be up there among these powerful clubs or not, maybe we are not expected to be. But we have picked up 25 points.

“What we have to be, though, is more consistent, and make sure we get what we deserve.

Chris Wilder and his Sheffield United team earned the respect of Derby but not any points (Picture: SportImage)

“The target is to put yourself in a position around Christmas where performances are consistent and so are the results.

“That was the disappointing thing about Saturday. We need to turn those good performances into points. If we can’t get what our play deserves in terms of a win then make sure we don’t lose.

“Get something at Bristol City, get something from Derby. Always pick something up, that was my message to the players.

“When it has been a tight game that is going to be decided by a bit of magic or a mistake, don’t be the one to make that mistake. We need to learn and do better in that respect.

Enda Stevens of Sheffield Utd runs past Jayden Bogle of Derby County (Picture:: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

“We do play in a way that is risk and reward. But there are times when we will be pushed back, which will happen when up against quality players. Stoke have those type of players.

“Enjoy and embrace it, but learn and keep going forward. No one expects us to be up there. I am not a big one for looking at the opposition.

“I respect the opposition, but I don’t fear anyone in this division providing we go about it in the right manner.

“We just have to be that little bit more consistent.”

Middlesbrough were the beneficiaries of United’s slip at Derby. Tony Pulis’s table-toppers tonight host Rotherham United, the only club yet to claim a point away from home in the Championship this term.

On paper it seems a much more straight-forward assignment than the one facing second-placed Blades.

Stoke lost 1-0 at home to Birmingham City on Saturday and are 17th in the table.

But manager Gary Rowett, a good friend of Wilder and someone whose counsel the United chief sought following promotion to the second tier in 2017, has a fine squad at his disposal.

“Clubs relegated from the Premier League don’t always hit the ground running,” said the Blades chief, who welcomes George Baldock back after illness.

“There are different issues, such as losing players or the players’ attitudes.

“Historically it has been tough. The mentality of teams coming up against teams from the Premier League is that this is their big game. The attitude Stoke had in the Premier League when playing Liverpool or Manchester City, all of a sudden the roles have been reversed and that isn’t easy.”

As for United Wilder added: “There is no bigger champion of my players than me. They have been outstanding. The way they recover from defeats or how we started the season. We are playing well, we are in good nick.”

Loanee Ben Woodburn is in the squad to face Stoke after briefly returning to Liverpool to play in an Under-23s match on Sunday. “It was an opportunity to get him some minutes,” said Wilder.

Last six games: Sheffield United DWWWWL Stoke City LLDWWL.

Referee: G Ward (Surrey).

Last time: Sheffield United 0 Stoke City 3; December 4, 2007; Championship.