Sheffield United need to switch on against Arsenal in FA Cup, says Chris Wilder

Manager Chris Wilder decided his Sheffield United players needed to clear their heads if they were to have a chance of reaching Wembley today – but there has been no let-up for him as he looks to kick-start their resumed season.

In need of a spark - Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield United looks on during the Premier League match at St. James's Park, Newcastle. (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

So impressive until Covid-19 brought the campaign to a temporary halt, the Blades are yet to hit those heights again, unlucky but still below par in a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa, then swept aside 3-0 at Newcastle United and Manchester United. Captain Billy Sharp admits they have “lost their edge”.

Wilder decided to give his players 48 hours off in the wake of the last of those defeats, but finding a way to improve their form and plotting a route past Arsenal in tomorrow’s home FA Cup quarter-final has been all-consuming for him.

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“At times they (the players) might need to have a walk in the park with the missus and the dog to clear their head a bit and make sure they come in nice and bright and bubbly and do the best we can in a limited time,” he explained. “For me, it’s been 24-7, 365 days of the year for the last 20 years. I have never had five minutes where I have not thought about football. Even in the good times, I always think about it. If you ask any manager they will possibly say exactly the same. In those 20 years I think have had two or three months off.

Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield United addresses some of the players during the Premier League match at Old Trafford on Wednesday (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

“Some (defeats) sting more than others but when the final whistle goes you have to have that feeling.

“And you have to look forward to the next opportunity to get it right.

“Tough times don’t last forever but tough people do and we have got a group of tough people at the club. If not I don’t think we would be in the position we are.

“I have never questioned (the players’) honesty and never will. We are hurting because it is not the standard we have set this season.

“They looked quite tired physically and everyone in sport will know when you are not playing well there is a drain on you mentally.”

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