Wilder's Sheff Utd regeneration continuing apace - Interview
Thursday, 10th Jan 2019 19:22 by Clive Whittingham
In a year when two of the three relegated teams have failed to compete, the promotion race is wide open for a new comer and Chris Wilder's Sheff Utd are near the front of the queue according to Blade George Howson.
How has the season gone for Sheff Utd so far?
Fantastically well, about as well as we could've hoped for. The new signings have been integrated into the squad very well and it's been showing with some brilliant performances in the first half of the season. There's a long way to go, of course, but if we avoid injuries to major players, we'll be in at least the play-off picture come May.
Chris Wilder didn’t mince his words after the Barnet loss – reserve team though so presumably that’s not going to have much effect?
We had a compete backup side out on Sunday, but it was disappointing to go out of the cup like that. The league has to take priority, though, and after naming pretty much the same starting XI for the previous four matches, those players earned a rest. The most concerning thing though has to be how poorly our bench players performed when given the chance, I'm not looking forward to seeing many of them starting anytime soon.
Wilder has done an amazing job at yours, while also being a bit prickly at times, presumably much loved by the Blades fans? Any dissenting voices? What makes him so good?
He's a Blade through and through, he's a fan and knows what we love at the club perfectly. Wilder calls a spade a spade, no mind games in his press conferences. What makes him so good as a manager is that he is so positive in his tactics: two of our three centre-backs bomb on from the back when we go forward, no team in the country attacks like we do. That and the effort that he demands, anybody that isn't putting in 100% effort gets an earful in the dressing room. There's always going to be critics, overzealous fans thinking they know better than him, but nobody pays attention to that, Wilder's our best shot at returning to the Premier League.
Dare we ask how Conor Washington has done for you? #sadnessinhiseyes
Poorly. Puts himself about and has some decent pace but he couldn't even score against Barnet, largely down to being afraid of taking a man on.
Stand out players and weak links…
It's hard to single out one player, but I'll big up Billy Sharp, although he hardly needs it. The skipper is the joint-highest goalscorer in the Championship, already beating his best tally in the second tier with half the season left. Despite getting on a bit, Sharpy's in the form of his life, he's lethal in front of goal and getting more inventive with his efforts, that overhead kick goal is looking like only a matter of time. Our weak link is potentially John Egan, he's made a few mistakes which have contributed to goals in the last few weeks, but he's been a rock at the back overall.
You’ve already done some big January business, including loaning Kieran Dowell from Evertonwho ripped us apart for Forest last year, any more comings and goings expected? Names being mentioned? What do you need?
Dowell was the one bright spark in that dismal Barnet match, he'll be a great impact sub on Saturday. We've also needed a striker as cover to Sharp and McGoldrick, and Gary Madine seems to be that man, even if I can't believe he's at the club considering his previous sides. Honestly, other than that, I think we need new cover at left-back, Marvin Johnson is the worst player at the club, useless.
Big opportunity this year with two of the newly relegated sides not competing, Sheff Utd are right in the mix but have unhappy play-off memories – can you do it?
The mention of play-offs give every Blades fan a nervous twitch, we always fail in them. I think we have a good chance of finishing top six, and if any United side can buck the trend, it's this group of players, they're a special bunch. That being said, if we fell short, nobody would be calling for Wilder's head.
The Twitter @GeorgeyHowson95, @loftforwords
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