MANAGER Chris Wilder feels his table-topping Sheffield United side are now a prized scalp for the rest of the Championship.
The Blades moved to the summit of the second tier for the first time in a dozen years on Friday night with victory at Leeds United.
Wolverhampton Wanderers losing 24 hours later at Queens Park Rangers, who host Wilder’s men tonight, and Cardiff City being held to a goalless draw by Millwall means United are still there four days later.
“We have a target on our backs and every game is a significant one because we are top,” said Wilder. “I said all last week if we beat Leeds and went top then it would be up to us to handle it.
“There are no egos in this dressing room. No backwards steps will be taken. This is an important period up to Christmas and we want to keep the hammer down.”
Considering how merited Friday night’s victory at Elland Road had been, Wilder surprised many by criticising his side in the immediate aftermath of the derby.
Some saw his words as an attempt to keep his players grounded after the euphoria of moving to the top of the Championship table.
“I wasn’t playing mind games with anyone,” said Wilder, whose only absentees for the trip to Loftus Road are Ched Evans and Kieron Freeman. “I am too old for that.
“I just talk in an honest and open way. There have to be reminders, as to what we are about. It was an honest assessment of our second-half performance. We turned the ball over too many times.
“The players have set standards and I have to drive them on.”
Ian Holloway is an outstanding manager and a proud man, a really good guy, and they will be wanting to turn us over, as they did Wolves.Sheffield United boss, Chris Wilder
United will face a Rangers side buoyed by their 2-1 win over Wolves in a fixture that Wilder took advantage of his blank weekend to watch live.
“Two good committed sides going for it,” is the 50-year-old’s assessment of what he saw. “Wolves are favourites for the division and everyone talks about their investment. But QPR were full value for the win and created chances.
“Ian Holloway is an outstanding manager and a proud man, a really good guy, and they will be wanting to turn us over, as they did Wolverhampton Wanderers. We have to front up to that challenge.
“We are enjoying it right now, but these results mean we have that target on our back. You can only work hard to change things and that is what we do as a football club. We are grounded and respect the game.
“This period is a great one for us at the moment, we can’t get away from that. But there is a long way to go. Plus, January and a big window is looming. We want to move the club forward.”
After tonight’s trip to west London, United will sign off ahead of the international break by hosting Hull City this coming weekend.
“This is a relentless league and we have two big games coming up before the international break,” added Wilder. “We want to round off the month at QPR with a good result.”
Last six games: QPR DDLDDW Sheffield United WWLWWW.
Referee: K Stroud (Hampshire).
Last time: QPR 0 Sheffield United 3; January 4, 2015; FA Cup.