Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has changed his approach to looking at the Premier League table - this is why

Chris Wilder says he changed his mentality for his second spell at Sheffield United and has been doing his best to avoid looking at the Premier League table ever since.

It does not make pretty reading for the Blades, bottom with just eight points from 17 games – six adrift of Nottingham Forest who are in the process of changing manager from Steve Cooper to Nuno Espirito Santo.

The narrative of Wilder's return has been about recreating his first spell as manager when he took them from League One in 2016 to ninth in the Premier League in 2021 before the next season tailed off, ending in relegation after his sacking.

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But he has already shown by changing from the back three predecessor Paul Heckingbottom favoured that he is thinking differently now and it extends beyond tactics.

"I really am being 100 per cent honest, I've not seen a league table and it's a mindset I've changed," he claimed. "I always think it's incredibly difficult not to look at a league table – whether you're a manager, a player, whether it's on social media or Match of the Day.

"But I really haven't looked at a league table and I'm trying my best not to. I'm sure I'll glance at one in the future but I'm really trying not to and hopefully that'll cement me in my attitude which hopefully passes on to the players."

Asked when he changed his mindset, Wilder – who managed Middlesbrough and Watford inbetween his two spells as Bramall Lane boss – said: "When this job became available. You need an idea of what you need to do from a technical and tactical point of view but the biggest thing we had to work on pretty quickly was the mentality of the players because of the lack of belief and lack of confidence.

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"I've been involved in that not just at this club but others where quite quickly it can go and what do you do to bring it back?

CHANGED APPROACH: Sheffield United manager Chris WilderCHANGED APPROACH: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder
CHANGED APPROACH: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

"Going back to 2016 we lost three out of the first four games at a huge club and a huge job for myself personally. We got beaten at Bolton, we drew the next game (against Rochdale), we were 3-0 down after 20 minutes against Southend and we got beaten against Millwall.

"Trying to get them back on track and get them going was always going to be the biggest thing we did.

"For this job, we go straightaway. Managers do blocks, can we get this amount of points out of this block of six (games)? There's all different ways to go about it but this is what I thought about pretty quickly as to how do we go about it.

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"I don't care about the league table. You're going to look at it, aren't you? It's daft but I'm trying to condition myself to this is how it is."

One thing that has not changed is his refusal to write games off.

The Blades finish 2023 with three games, two of which are away matches they would be expected to lose – against prospective league leaders Aston Villa on Friday and Manchester City on the 30th. The other sees them host Luton Town, currently two places and a point above, on Boxing Day.

Some managers would target the Hatters' game but Wilder does not want to diminish the importance of Villa and City.

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"I'm not writing anything off," he insisted. "I've never seen it that way.

"Luton came incredibly close to beating Liverpool and Man City, they're not writing it off. I'm not saying we're following what Luton are doing but if you don't believe you can get anything from the game you might as well not turn up, you might as well not get on the train or the bus.

"We have to go with the belief we can get something from the games.

"We have to play at our top, a lot of things have to go for us, but if we can produce our top performance and ask the question, then who knows?

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"We can't just focus on these games and accept we'll lose that one. Friday is just as big a three points as Brentford and as big a point as any the club has got this season so straight into it and best effort."

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