MANAGER Chris Wilder has promised his Sheffield United side will not dilute their attacking style of play in pursuit of promotion to the Premier League.
Fourth-placed Blades travel to Norwich City tomorrow looking to regain second spot from the Canaries, who are three points better off after 28 games.
Behind closed doors, unless somebody has been spying on our training sessions, they have been excellent.Chris Wilder
Defeat to Norwich would open up a six-point gap to the automatic promotion places – currently occupied by Leeds United and Norwich – and the visitors could be forgiven for being cautious.
But Blades boss Wilder is refusing to betray his side’s high-risk tactics and he has challenged his players to continue their impressive form and secure a minimum top-six finish come May.
“For far too long this club has been involved in meaningless end-of-season games,” said Wilder.
“Last season we took it to the 45th game. Who is to say we won’t take it on even more this season.
“We will go to Norwich and try to win as we have done in every game.
“I am not saying in the last 10 minutes, if we are up against it, we might change formation and see a game out. That’s sensible football.
“But we don’t start off thinking we will sit on the crossbar, invite everything on to us, and try to hit them on the counter. We will take the game to them.
“It’s possibly two teams who weren’t expected – in terms of budgets and recruitment in the summer – to be in second and fourth position. That sums up the division absolutely perfectly.
“If we don’t get the result we want on Saturday our season isn’t over. If we win our season is not done and dusted and we have achieved.”
With a week remaining before the January transfer window closes, Wilder has drafted in two loan players – striker Gary Madine and midfielder Kieran Dowell – to bolster his squad.
He is hopeful of securing another new signing on a temporary basis before next Thursday’s deadline.
Norwich will probably have Jordan Rhodes – the loan striker for whom Sheffield Wednesday paid £10m – on their bench tomorrow.
It is the type of luxury Wilder – and United, who have one of the smaller budgets in the division – cannot afford, but the Blades boss insists “money doesn’t guarantee you success”.
He said: “There was big bucks (spent) in the summer. Stoke City £45m, Nottingham Forest £30m, teams that are beneath us. That is something out of our control.
“But what I will say is there are no guarantees whatever you do, whatever player you sign. You just try to get as many right as possible, and I think our record, like £11.5m for David Brooks and the other boys that have gone out, the incomings means we are well in credit.
“Also look at our team and the assets that we have got.
“We bring Enda Stevens in from Portsmouth on a free transfer, hasn’t played in the Championship before and for a period of time has become one of the best left wing-backs in the Championship.
“Likewise Jack O’Connell, John Fleck, David McGoldrick.
“We just get value for money as always. Money doesn’t guarantee you success. It does give you a better opportunity, but it still doesn’t guarantee anything.”
Dowell and Madine have yet to start a league game, but Wilder has been impressed since they arrived at Bramall Lane.
Wilder said the duo were pushing for a starting shirt after last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Swansea City.
“Behind closed doors, unless somebody has been spying on our training sessions, they have been excellent,” said Wilder.
“Their attitude has been great and they have not come here to sit on the bench. They have come here to push, get on the pitch and start games.”
Norwich manager Daniel Farke has urged officials to offer better protection for his players.
But Wilder is relishing the challenge at Carrow Road.
“I know Daniel is looking for a bit of protection for his players,” he said. “We will go down there and compete, by the way.
“We will look to make strong challenges and hopefully the referee will make correct decisions and strong decisions.
“If it steps over the mark, hopefully he will be the judge and jury of that, not the Norwich City manager or the Norwich City crowd.
“We will try and win the game in the correct manner.”
Norwich have a good record when it comes to scoring late goals this season.
In their last six Championship games the Canaries have netted a total of six goals after the 80th minute.
“We’ve looked at their late goal record for a while,” Wilder explained. “They commit bodies forward.
“We are set for a 95-minute game. I’m not saying it will be. They might be a lot better than us on the day. We might be a lot better than them. But that’s what we’re ready for.
“The bets will be on it being a tight game.”