Chris Wilder and Sheffield United continue to live the dream in the Premier League.
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Their 1-0 win against Wolves on Wednesday, courtesy of a last-gasp winner from John Egan, made it back-to-back home wins after beating Tottenham last week and the Blades are still in the hunt for Champions League qualification with four games to go.
ProSoccerTalk spoke to a delighted Wilder after the game and simply asked: did this tight win against Wolves sum up everything that’s been great about Sheffield United’s return to Premier League this season?
“I think so. We like to think we’ve brought something in terms of our attitude and our performances to get the results that we’ve got,” Wilder said. “We had a stretched squad and really had to dig in to get a result. I don’t think you get the result and the performance tonight if you haven’t got something with the ball and I think we did have something with the ball and out of it everybody did a job and tried to stop a very, very talented side from gaining momentum and dominating us. Second half, especially, we looked and it felt like we were really desperate to go and get a winner. Regardless of how late its come, we’ve been rewarded for that attitude.”
That attitude, skill and desire has Sheffield United four points off a potential Champions League place with four games to go. After a bad start to the restart they’ve taken seven points from their last three games and sit in seventh place in the table.
Does this win, one that Wilder called the biggest since he’s been at the club, mean the Champions League is still in reach?
“We’ve never felt like anything is within our grasp. All we’ve looked at is the next result. We shouldn’t be anywhere near the position we are in but we are for a reason because we get our heads down, take a defeat on the chin and come roaring back,” Wilder told ProSoccerTalk. “As I said, it was a very chastening afternoon at Old Trafford recently and the reaction is not a surprise to me. It has to be that way right the way through. Please don’t tell me the fixture list because I know it and I don’t want to think about it too much tonight!”
They have Chelsea, Leicester City, Everton and Southampton left to play and four wins from that lot could see them sneak fifth place which may be a Champions League spot depending on whether or not Man City’s UEFA ban is upheld. The Blades are in dreamland and at this point they are well on track to qualify for the Europa League and that would be a phenomenal achievement.
Following Egan’s stoppage time winner against Wolves, Wilder roared down the touchline in celebration towards The Kop.
There were obviously no fans in attendance but the local lad who is managing the club he supports summed up that moment and how proud he was of the win against a fellow Champions League hopeful, as they’ve come a long way since League One when he took charge in 2015.
“You take yourself out of the situation regarding 30,000 fans of our own supporters. I don’t think I need to explain how much we’ve missed them. I’m delighted and proud of the performance,” Wilder added. “I’ve got to say, on the second half we’ve nicked a tight game through an absolute will to go and win. Good play, good defending, energy and effort. Right up there in terms of our performances, if you put everything down in terms of the team is stretched, quick turnaround of games, key players not being available, some really tired bodies, some boys are not 100 percent fit. The quality of the opposition and the position of the club in the league. What the other team has got. I think that is right up there in terms of performance and result.”
Coming off the back of one of their best victories of the season, Wilder spared a thought for his fellow Sheffield United fans watching across the world as their team aim to complete a fairytale season in style.
“We’re just enjoying it and hopefully our supporters are enjoying. I’m in a privileged position, being a Sheffield United supporter as well as the manager,” Wilder said. “If I was sat in my favorite pub tonight watching that as a Sheffield United fan, I would have really enjoyed that. Hopefully they have done.”
Wilder kept repeating that Sheffield United have no right to be fighting for European qualification and should be in the relegation battle instead. One reporter asked him why he thought they were surpassing all expectations?
With his dry Yorkshire whit, this was Wilder’s brilliant response.
“I don’t know. I am scratching my head! Here’s one for you: try and keep the ball out of one goal and try and go put it in the other. That middle bit, don’t worry about it too much,” Wilder laughed.