Chris Wilder: Sander Berge looked like a Sheffield United player on his debut

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Sander Berge “looked like a Sheffield United player” on his Blades debut, according to manager Chris Wilder.

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Sheffield United's 22m signing Sander Berge dispossesses Patrick van Aanholt on his Blades debut

Sheffield United's 22m signing Sander Berge dispossesses Patrick van Aanholt on his Blades debut


The club's £22m record signing was thrown straight in at Crystal Palace on Saturday, and contributed to a 1-0 win in tough conditions.

He started well, nearly getting on the end of Oli McBurnie's knock-down in the fourth minute and pressing well, but was forced to protect George Baldock a little as the right wing-back sailed close to the wind in marking Wilfred Zaha. Predictably he faded in the second half, and was substituted after 68 minutes.

“It's been an incredibly hectic 72 hours for him as you would expect but I thought it was the right thing to do,” Wilder reflected. “He looked a Sheffield United player.

“He was athletic, he gets about the park and he can pass it. There's more to come from him.

“When he was subbed the look on his face was, 'Wow, I'll have to get up to speed in this division,' which is great, but he contributed.

“Sander can be pleased with his performances, he's fitted in fantastically well and certainly there's more to come.

“People have got to recognise he's only 21, he's played in the Champions League, and won a title in the Belgian League but now he's in the big league and he'll adapt and I'm sure improve. He'll certainly improve us as a football club.”

The Blades did not really carry a goal threat until Vicente Guaita dropped Oliver Norwood's 58th-minute corner over the line to put them in front, although from that point on they were much more threatening, having been comfortably second-best at 0-0.

“It wasn't the most free-flowing performance but we got our noses in front and the first goal was always going to be key,” said Wilder.

“They were obviously trying to force the game and possibly we had the clearer chances on the counter-attack, which always happen. Had the roles been reversed I should imagine they would have had good opportunities on the counter-attack.”

Baldock was lucky not to receive a second yellow card for his latest foul on Wilfred Zaha after 35 minutes, having already been booked for grabbing the winger in the first 20 minutes.

Joel Ward was shown the red card by Huddersfield referee Andy Madley for a tackle on Enda Stevens, but he reviewed the decision on a pitchside monitor, and changed it to a yellow.

Neither managers wanted to criticise the referee for completing the game with 22 players on the field.

“I thought it was a bit disappointing George received his first yellow but after that there were a couple of boys booked after that so I think the ref was consistent in his approach,” commented Wilder.

“We're not a malicious side but we're competitive and this is a competitive sport. If that had been a yellow card we'd have been disappointed but it seems to be going that way in the Premier League, which we've not been used to playing in the Championship for the last two seasons.

“It's a physical sport, a contact sport and just as I didn't think Joel Ward's collision was a red, I didn't think George's was a second yellow.”

Roy Hodgson said: “I'm the Crystal Palace manager and a Crystal Palace fan. I watched the first 30 minutes where they rarely got into our half of the field and I saw (James) Tomkins get a yellow card for the first foul we were adjudged to have made.

“I saw Wilf fouled time after time, which eventually led to a yellow card, and then I saw him fouled again and it's not a yellow card so I think I'm entitled to say that could have been red but referee have got to make decisions and I'm definitely not nit-picking every decision.

“Football is ifs and buts right the way through. We try to make it an exact science but it's a game.

“VAR came to the referee's rescue (over Ward). What bothers me about that is there are people in Stockley Park (where the video assistant referees are based) looking at that and not being sure, sending the referee to the screen. If it's your job to see that with all the angles and you still think that's a red card (or are not sure it is not), I'm worried about VAR.”

The former England manager was also unwilling to criticise his goalkeeper for the goal, saying: “I’m saddened, because people will look at that but he’s a huge part of why we have got 30 odd points. We are in his debt, he is not in debt to us.”