New Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder calls on his players to ‘get off the ropes’ and ‘swing some punches’ in fight against relegation
- Chris Wilder is back at Sheffield Utd after being dismissed as manager in 2021
- The 56-year-old is tasked with keeping the Blades in the Premier League
- This HAS to be the time when players show respect and control. Only the captain should approach referees – Listen to It’s All Kicking Off
Chris Wilder has vowed to repair the relationship between Sheffield United’s team and its fans after being reappointed by the Premier League strugglers.
Named as LMA Manager of the Year in 2019 during his previous spell in charge at Bramall Lane, Wilder inherits a squad at the bottom of the table and four points adrift of safety after winning only once in 14 outings so far this season.
Paul Heckingbottom was sacked following Saturday’s 5-0 rout by Burnley – a result which followed a 3-1 home defeat by AFC Bournemouth.
Although he praised the work of his predecessor, who overcame a series of financial difficulties to lead United out of the Championship last term, Wilder admitted the standard of United’s recent performances fell way short of what the club’s supporters expect from their team.
‘There’s been a little bit of a disconnect, over the past couple of games, between the players and the fans,’ said Wilder, himself a lifelong United supporter.
Chris Wilder has returned as manager of Sheffield United to replace Paul Heckingbottom
Wilder, 56, took training on Tuesday after being confirmed as the club’s new boss
His first game back in charge of the Blades will be against Liverpool on Wednesday night
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‘I’ve reminded the players about what the work ethic is. We have to be brave, in and out of possession.
‘It’s not about smashing people all over the place and getting booked or sent off. It’s about asking questions physically.
‘If you sit on the ropes for four or five rounds then someone is going to land on you. You’ve got to swing some punches as well.’
Wilder led United from League One to a ninth-placed top-flight finish before leaving United in March 2021 amid reports of a fall-out with owner Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
However, after signing an 18 month contract, he insisted his return confirms the pair now get along well with the Saudi Arabian recommending him for a number of vacancies abroad, including Turkish giants Fenerbahce, during the intervening period.
Wilder begins his latest reign with a home match against Liverpool on Wednesday night.
Despite refusing to make light of the situation United find themselves in, he added: ‘I’m under no illusions that this is an incredible game to be involved in, with 30,000 plus people under the lights at Bramall Lane. It’s a special place. I’ve told the players: “This is like an FA Cup third round tie and how would you approach it? You’d go out there and give it everything.”
He guided the club from League One right up to the Premier League after promotion in 2019
Mail Sport’s Riath Al-Samarrai broke the news of Wilder’s pending Blades return in September
Heckingbottom was sacked on Tuesday after their disastrous 5-0 loss at Burnley on Saturday
‘We’ve got to get the performance right. If we do that then we can be competitive. We’ve got nothing to lose.’
Wilder will be without suspended striker Oli McBurnie for the meeting with Jurgen Klopp’s men, while defenders John Egan, Rhys Norrington-Davies and Chris Basham are long-term absentees.
Pledging to try and ‘change the narrative’ surrounding United, Wilder said: ‘It always has been us, Sheffield United, against the world. We’re not a club that dominates or Lords it over others. But I like that. We can take advantage of that.’
‘The supporters here can make the shirt light for the players,’ he added. ‘The crowd, last time, were helping us turn losses into draws and draws into wins.’
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