Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sheffield United: Blades have plenty of reasons to get back on the bike

It has been a tough week for Sheffield United but as the morons who racially abused Mason Holgate on social media for his part in it seem incapable of understanding, some perspective is needed.

Last Sunday, handicapped by Holgate's 13th-minute red card for a brainless tackle on Karou Mitoma, the Blades lost 5-0 at home to Brighton and Hove Albion. It was the third home game running they had conceded five goals, and hard for manager Chris Wilder to swallow as he spoke to the media afterwards.

But on Monday the sun came up again and a new week began.

Bad as it felt at the time, seven days later the Blades may well get the chance to move off the bottom of the table for the first time since November this weekend.

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Only a Burnley win at Selhurst Park in Oliver Glasner's first game as Crystal Palace manager (mathematical miracles notwithstanding) will deny them the opportunity this Sunday afternoon.

The tricky bit will be taking something from the home of a Wolverhampton Wanderers side who have exceeded expectations under former Middlesbrough manager Gary O'Neil, but who lost at Bramall Lane in November.

Sheffield United have been rightly criticised for how poor they have been at times this season but the only difference between them and the Clarets is 13 goals' difference. So finishing above Vincent Kompany's side has to be a realistic ambition this season even if making up the more important seven-point gap to safety looks highly unlikely.

But this is football. You just never know. What is important is that the Blades do not stop striving.

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PERSPECTIVE: Sheffield United manager Chris WilderPERSPECTIVE: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder
PERSPECTIVE: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

Wilder insists even outdoing Burnley is too long-sighted a target for his liking, but admits not being 20th when the tables are published on Sunday evening would be a much-needed shot in the arm for downtrodden players who have lost eight of the 13 matches he has overseen.

"Us getting off the bottom shows we're picking up points, that's the biggest outcome to what happens and the positive feel to that," he says.

"We'd talked about back-to-back results of course (something they could have achieved had they been able to follow up their win at Luton Town against the Seagulls) but if you get off the bottom you've done something right, you're heading in the right direction.

DESPAIR: Anel Ahmedhodzic and Tom Davies during Sheffield United's 5-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove AlbionDESPAIR: Anel Ahmedhodzic and Tom Davies during Sheffield United's 5-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion
DESPAIR: Anel Ahmedhodzic and Tom Davies during Sheffield United's 5-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion

"I still think there's everything to play for. There's still noise regarding financial fair play, who knows what happens from that point of view and is it just a couple of clubs that could get punished even more heavily?

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"One club (Everton) have already been punished but does that happen to another club? Nobody knows.

"All we've got to make sure is we do start climbing the table and picking up points that allows us to get above certain teams and keep climbing."

Everton are still waiting to hear if their appeal against a 10-point deduction for breaching financial fair play restrictions between 2019 and 2022 has had any success, but as soon as that is dealt with, it will be time to decide the punishment they and fellow relegation rivals Nottingham Forest will face for overspending between 2020 and 2023.

VULNERABLE: Vincent Kompany's Burnley begin the weekend level on points with Sheffield UnitedVULNERABLE: Vincent Kompany's Burnley begin the weekend level on points with Sheffield United
VULNERABLE: Vincent Kompany's Burnley begin the weekend level on points with Sheffield United

It is a pretty short straw to grasp at, but the Blades cannot afford to let it go.

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Wilder is not going to get sidetracked by hypotheticals or targets beyond the very basic one of winning at Molineux.

"It's win the next game, basically," he says.

"I've not been a lover of (targets) in the past, I think it puts undue pressure on if you do sets of games and stuff like that.

"I get it, some managers and some clubs do it, but the biggest thing is that we approach the next game in the right way and focus everything on that, then quickly moving on to the game after that once it's concluded.

"Everything goes into that, the Premier League is hard enough. We do what we have to do to prepare in every way, is super big, as you can imagine when you're playing at this level."

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The week has been spent working hard at Shirecliffe to try to end the bad habit of conceding goals in clusters, a feature against Brighton.

"You can talk to the players in small-sided games, you can put restrictions on them," explains Wilder. "You can identify that moment even in a small-sided game.

"When one goes in, what's the mindset now? Messages, video analysis, what do we do to help us in that situation?

"The odds when you go 1-0 and 2-0 down in quick succession escalate for you to get back in the game and it makes it really difficult.

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"I think we all recognise we're going to concede but it's the manner of the goals that concern me, They're not great goals going in, and the quick succession that we have to deal with, to give us a fighting chance.

"It was a disappointing afternoon (last week), but only three points, lost though. Back-to-back results are huge but just about all the other teams around us lost (except Forest). That doesn't make it acceptable but we have to go for the three points on Sunday afternoon.

"We've just got to get back on the bike, we've had a decent week."

There is no other way.

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