Chris Wilder says that the problem with Sheffield United at the moment is the players lack belief.
Wilder has once again defended his tactics and formation following a sixth defeat in seven Premier League games this season.
Manchester City were the latest side to beat the Blades, with Kyle Walker scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory against his former club at Bramall Lane.
Wilder stuck with the 3-5-2 formation that has served him so well during his four-and-a-half years in charge at United.
It didn’t seem to be an issue last term when the South Yorkshire team finished ninth in their first top flight campaign in 12 years.
So what’s changed this time around?
“The players have to dig deep in terms of belief,” Wilder told BBC Radio Sheffield.
“I believe in myself, I believe in the football club, I believe in my coaches and my staff. I believe the way we’re going about it is the right way. And players have got to believe, when they go on that pitch, that they’re good enough to compete at the highest level of English football.
“Whether it’s from a psychology point-of-view and they go and speak to somebody, or come and speak to me. They know the positive atmosphere we have created here and how we support the players.
“But they’ve got to play the game for themselves. The attitude is yet again. spot on. The commitment, desire and all that stuff that’s talked about is good, the togetherness is good. But we have to show loads more quality than what we’re showing.”
Sheffield United players should take Chris Wilder advice
Time and time again Wilder is portrayed as an old school manager, because of his accent and general demeanour. But this is a stereotyping that is at best incorrect, and at worse damaging.
The 53-year-old’s tactical prowess and coaching has disproven this theory at every turn. Yet his man management is also extremely modern.
Bolton Wanderers boss Ian Evatt received criticism recently for telling goalkeeper Ben Crellin to “man up” in his post-match interview. Evatt has since apologised, saying he should have said “step up” instead.
Some would regard Wilder as someone from a similar mould. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
When Wilder publicly criticised Dean Henderson last season following a mistake against Liverpool, it was constructive. Plus, he knew Henderson would react positively to it – as shown by a man-of-the-match performance in the very next game with Watford.
The goalkeeper has even said about how Wilder made him feel “10 feet tall”.
His opinion that the players should “speak to somebody” isn’t a throwaway comment. It is genuine advice. And is something they should listen to.