Chris Wilder's tough watch as Sheffield United fail to take a good opportunity

Chris Wilder was left to lament a missed opportunity as his Sheffield United side, buoyed by a midweek victory over Aston Villa, were comfortably beaten by an out-of-form Southampton.

The Saints won 2-0 but were it not for Aaron Ramsdale, their margin of victory should have been much greater.

It left manager Wilder downbeat at full-time.

“I thought it was a great opportunity,” he reflected. “I thought there was nothing in the first half, we just had to find a bit of energy from somewhere and a little bit of sparkle and quality but we couldn't. The quality from us in the second half was extremely poor, we made some really poor decisions and gave the ball cheaply.

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FRUSTRATION: Sheffield United manager Chris WilderFRUSTRATION: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder
FRUSTRATION: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

“They sat in, got the second goal from three or four mistakes by us and countered on us which all good teams will do. Aaron made couple of saves from us but it just looked a game too far.

“I'm looking now thinking I need to make changes but unfortunately I can't. There weren't many options, we had to go with what we had.

“There seemed to be a lot of tired bodies and tired minds, especially in the second half.”

The game was the Blades' third at home in seven days and they went into it depleted by injury and suspension looking lethargic against a Saints side who arrived with one Premier League point from the last 27 available.

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Asked if it had been a game too far, Wilder replied: “You hope it's not but you'd think that was the case. There's a temptation to change it at the top of the pitch and maybe I made the wrong decision.

“There aren't many options out there, to be honest.

“We're just a little bit short and to stick the kids in isn't the answer.

“We have to have our best players out there, there can't be that many changes.

“I thought John Fleck was decent but the two other midfield players were chalk and cheese. Didzy (David McGoldrick) was excellent in midweek and off it today. Others were okay-to-goods in midweek but off it today.

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“You're scratching around for performances and you're looking at 4s and 5s generously. You're not going to win a game of football like that and it was difficult watching for me today. The correct result happened.”

With only 14 points from 28 league games, the reality is that the Blades have been nowhere near good enough this season, despite finishing ninth in 2019-20.

“If you talk about a successful season you're looking at 7s, 8s and 9s (out of ten), this season it's 4s, 5s and 6s,” was Wilder's blunt assessment. “That player of the season award is not going to be contended by six, seven or eight?

“What players played well from our point of view? What players stood out? What players took their opportunity? You wouldn't say many.”

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