Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder bemoans the Blades' lack of cutting edge

FRUSTRATED: Sheffield United manager Chris WilderFRUSTRATED: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder
FRUSTRATED: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder
Chris Wilder bemoaned Sheffield United's finishing as their goalless and pointless start to the Premier League season extended to three matches.

The Blades played well at home to Leeds United but visiting goalkeeper Illan Meslier walked away with the man of the match award and three points as Patrick Bamford's third goal in as many games proved decisive.

Wilder would love to have a centre-forward in that sort of form. Having already signed Oliver Burke this summer, he is in the market for another striker, but is waiting to learn what finances are available now Jack O'Connell's injury has forced him into the market for a centre-back too.

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“I thought it was a really tight game,” said Wilder after the 1-0 defeat. “They (Leeds) are an exceptional football side with good players, well coached with a lot of good players.

“I thought it was always going to be a tight game, a Yorkshire derby, and I thought they were better for the first ten or 15 minutes but we once we got a grip of the game we created the better chances.

“We've got to score the first goal. I thought their opportunities came from long range and good movement and good build-up but I thought the shape of our team was really good.

“We had the best chances in the first half and if you don't take your chances in a tight game, (Jack) Harrison finds a fabulous cross and Bamford finds space off Jack Robinson and we're left ruing our chances to score the first goal.”

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John Lundstram missed a good chance in the first half and was denied by an incredible Meslier save,who also did well to keep out Ben Osborn and Enda Stevens. Substitute Oli McBurnie also failed to convert with a diving header at an 81st-minute corner.

“Maybe I'm seeing it through rose-tinted glasses, I didn't think he had that much to do,” said Wilder when asked about the performance of his own goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale. “He didn't get the man of the match award like Leeds United's goalkeeper did. I thought he was outstanding on the day.”

Wilder probably was looking at it through slightly rose-tinted glasses. Although he did not need to be as brilliant as Meslier, Ramsdale did still have to play well, with Leeds putting eight shots on target to the Blades' four.

Sheffield United's disappointing day started with the news that centre-back Jack O'Connell could miss most if not all of the rest of the season with knee surgery.

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“The way we play has taken a lot of work on the training ground and the back three have been hugely important in our progression over the last two or three years,” said Wilder. “Jack's been with us since League One and had an outstanding Sheffield United career so far. To lose him is a blow for me personally and the football club but for Jack as well, to get into the Premier League and do what he's done in his first season, being out for potentially the rest of the season is a huge blow for him.

“As a young player he had a couple of little issues but got through it, rehabbed and played his games. When we sign players they have to have a track record of playing games.

“He had an injury last season just after lockdown where we lost him for a period. He tried to get back at the back end of last season but wasn't at full tilt. We got him going again in pre-season but he's just below where he needs to be.

“He's having discomfort and a few issues with his knee. We wrapped him up in cotton wool but long-term it's not good for him to carry on like that so the operation was needed and we're disappointed he's going to be out for a lengthy period.”

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Wilder hopes he will now be able to sign a central defender and a centre-forward, although he ruled out rumoured interest in Daniel Sturridge for the latter role.

“I spoke to the owners because we've known this for two or three days and I've highlighted we need to bring somebody in in that position because we're light,” he said. “We can't rely on Jack Robson playing right the way through the season.

“I've recommended to the board that we bring a couple of players in so we've put some names to them and hopefully they'll agree with my assessment that we need to strengthen.”

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