Chris Wilder admits 'I have to look after Sheffield United players' following 5-0 Aston Villa hammering

Chris Wilder is not known for treating his players with kid gloves, but the Sheffield United manager admits he must be careful with them this week as he looks to lift them for Saturday's trip to Luton Town.

The Blades go there on the back of the limpest performance of Wilder's second spell as manager, a 5-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa littered with poor goals. Before it kicked off, Everton, Luton and Burnley had drawn their afternoon games.

The Blades have conceded 59 goals in 23 Premier League games this season and although only three points behind Burnley, their goal difference is 17 worse.

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Conceding four goals in 28 first-half minutes pointed to a fragility Wilder cannot ignore.

"I have to look after the players," he admitted. "It’s part and parcel of being manager.

"There are times to be firm but we have to look after them as well. They are hurting; not as much as the supporters because we they are the ones we massively let down.

"You have to get the right approach with the players and help them through this period while giving them the opportunity to put it right at Luton."

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He expects to learn a lot about his players in the coming days.

CHALLENGE: Chris Wilder has to manage his Sheffield United players well this weekCHALLENGE: Chris Wilder has to manage his Sheffield United players well this week
CHALLENGE: Chris Wilder has to manage his Sheffield United players well this week

"There was analysis of the game right the way through the weekend," he said. "We’ll come in Monday morning and we have to dissect it pretty quickly and try and improve.

"I didn’t see this coming, I have to say. We have to own it – I’ll own and the players will own it.

"I’m not going to forget about it and park it. You have to accept it, deal with it and make it better.

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"I didn’t see this coming one bit, I thought the mood in the group was good.

"It’s a massive test for the players now. All eyes will be on the body language and character of the group.

"Are they going into a corner, a little group, saying ‘It wasn’t my fault’ or ‘I did this right but the manager or coaches got it wrong’? That gets you nowhere – you have to suffer through the tough periods.

"Everyone will have their opinion on us, which I totally accept, and I should imagine the majority of our supporters will have an opinion.

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"They have that right and I wouldn’t deny that, but as always we can affect what’s happening.

"I will and the coaches will but most importantly the players need to affect what goes off between now and the end of the season."

Luton's 4-4 draw at Newcastle mean they are unbeaten in the last six matches in all competitions. Sheffield United have to end that.

"It won’t be the biggest shock in world football if we go there and get a result," insisted Wilder.

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"We’ve got to believe we’re good enough, mentally and physically, tactically and technically, for a strong week. I'd like to think I'll see a reaction and some strong characters come through, stick their hands up and come out fighting.

"I'll be swinging this week and hopefully the players will be and looking forward to it because we're still in the Premier League.

"People will think we're done and dusted, that’s an opinion.

"We have to get ourselves right and show that character that epitomised this club over a long period but was missing on Saturday."

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