SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Chris Wilder last night accused his side of “arrogance” following their shock FA Cup exit at home to non-League Barnet.
The Blades were deservedly dumped out of the competition by a National League outfit sitting 85 places lower in the football pyramid.
Shaquile Coulthirst netted the only goal, from the penalty spot, on an afternoon when Wilder made ten changes from the side that had beaten Wigan Athletic on New Year’s Day to move up to third in the Championship.
“That defeat hurts me as much as any other I have had here,” said the Blades’ chief, who waited behind after the final whistle to shake the hands of each Barnet player.
“The better team won, 100 per cent. They were better in every part of the game. We were lucky the defeat was not by two or three more.
“I have told the boys, ‘Try and find a side door to sneak out of because you don’t deserve to go through the front door’.
“That performance was one of arrogance. Too many of them went off plan and did what they wanted to. That doesn’t represent the football club or represent me. I am full of respect for the Conference, I have managed in it (with Halifax and Oxford).
“We knew they would be up for it. I imagine the Barnet players will be thinking, ‘How are Sheffield United third in the Championship?’
“The reception our fans gave the Barnet players (afterwards) was first-class. But they should have booed our players louder.”
United’s second FA Cup exit to a non-League club in the past four decades, Altrincham having knocked the club out after a replay in 1982, capped a largely miserable weekend for Yorkshire.
Only Doncaster Rovers are definitely through to the fourth round after beating Preston North End yesterday, while Sheffield Wednesday are in tonight’s draw, but must negotiate a replay at Luton Town next week.
For Wilder, the manner of his side’s 1-0 defeat merely strengthened his desire to bring in former Owls striker Gary Madine on loan from Cardiff City.
The 28-year-old, present at Bramall Lane to watch the Barnet tie, is expected to confirm his return to the Steel City this week.
“Watching that I am thinking, ‘We might not need one, we need 11’,” said Wilder when asked about Madine’s impending return.
“I am not going to just sweep that (performance) under the carpet. I won’t be forgetting it and I will not go along with people saying, ‘It is better to be out of the Cup in terms of the league position’. That is rubbish.
“There will not be many knocking on my door in the next few weeks saying they deserve to be playing.
“None of the players, on that performance, will force their way into the team. A place may open up through an injury or a suspension, but they have to do an awful lot now to get themselves back in credit.
“It certainly was not a nice feeling watching my team play like that.
“If we get beat through a lack of quality or because the opposition is better than you, or even through a refereeing decision, I can take that.
“But not what I saw out there. We are a team that has had an identity over the years, even when we have changed the team.
“First year we made (ten) changes to the team and beat Leyton Orient (in the Cup) 6-0. We lost to Bolton in the next round, but we had a right, good go.
“Last year we changed it again and beat Ipswich. We have either won or gone out through the front door.
“We had to make the changes this time because of the effort the boys have put in to get us to third in the division. But the team and the players were still good enough to win this tie.
“I will take responsibility because they are players I have signed. But there was a real arrogance about them.”
Wilder’s anger at the final whistle was in stark contrast to the emotions felt by Barnet counterpart Darren Currie, nephew of Blades legend Tony.
“He is proud of me and he felt that we deserved it,” said the Bees’ caretaker chief when asked if he had spoken to the man who last year had the main stand at Bramall Lane renamed in his honour.
“Naturally he is hurting because he wants his team to go through. It does add something special. He is my uncle. I know he is a legend up here, but he is a legend in my eyes, too.”
Match report: Page 4.