Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder on his zero-tolerance to football's dark arts

Chris Wilder.
Chris Wilder.
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MENTION the concept of gamesmanship and bending or breaking the rules to gain a competitive advantage and Chris Wilder's expression will quickly darken.

Examples of diving, feigning injury, cynical fouls, obstruction, throwing the ball away and gesturing for a card to be shown may be increasingly commonplace in the Premier League, the self-styled 'greatest league in the world', but the Sheffield United manager will always a 'zero tolerance' approach to any such actions.

Wilder's honesty is worn as a badge of honour. It was manifested in calling last weekend's decision which saw Billy Sharp dismissed and a goal ruled out on VAR for an offside offence in a 1-0 home reverse against Southampton, which was the embodiment of a frustrating afternoon at the office.

Wilder's captain Sharp may have been stewing over his dismissal for his challenge on Saints' midfielder Stuart Armstrong this week, while Oliver McBurnie was quick to tweet his displeasure after his goal was chalked out last weekend - but their manager offered no sympathy.

His views that both decisions were correct - stated after the game - had not changed. His belief that his side should have been awarded a spot-kick for a handball by James Ward-Prowse, which he felt that the Saints midfielder plainly got away with, had not either.

In a time when many top-flight managers rail against any mildily-controversial incident that goes against their side - call it self-preservation - Wilder's candid, old-school attitude is refreshing and to be applauded.

Despite the rarefied surroundings which he operates in, that attitude will not change and his players will not indulge in any 'dark arts' either.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Everton, Wilder said: "I will not to put up with dark arts. I cannot change and our fans will not accept that and I do not want to accept that.

"My experience comes from when i was 16 and started in the game in 1983-84. I have got the ability to have an opinion on it and it is a competitive game.

"When someone gets whacked in chest and holds their face and a manager tries to get someone sent off chucking his arms in the air, that is not me and I do not think that is what the game is about.

"I am not the only one and it is pretty easy to guess who I have spoken to that would have the same opinion.

"I do not want them (players) to roll about and act in that way. We make contact with them (rival players) and expect them to do the same.

"I thought (Che) Adams was excellent for Southampton. He made it difficult for our centre-backs and made a big (physical) challenge into them. It is part of the game, I have always been consistent on my view on that and would hate it to change."