Stoke City manager Nathan Jones has praised Sheffield United ahead of their Championship meeting on Sunday.
The two sides end their season against each other at the Bet 365 Stadium this weekend. While Stoke’s first campaign in the second tier in 11 years has been a disappointment, the Blades have exceeded expectations.
The Potteries cannot finish any higher than their current position of 16th; regardless of the result on Sunday. After coming down from the Premier League last term this is considered an underachievement.
Meanwhile, United confirmed their promotion to the top flight for the first time in 12 years with a game to spare. In fact, if they win in Staffordshire and Norwich City lose to Aston Villa, they could even win the title.
And Jones – who was appointed as boss in January following the sacking of Gary Rowett – is impressed with what Chris Wilder has done.
“Chris Wilder has done a wonderful job, He has a great work ethic which reflects in his players and he is deservedly reaping the success he deserves,” the former Luton Town chief said in his press conference.
“They deserve to be promoted this season, the table doesn’t lie.
“They are a really good story of what you can achieve.”
What Wilder has achieved
With far fewer resources than others in the division, Wilder has taken the EFL by storm. After six years in League One, once he was appointed as manager they were promoted as champions in his first season – and with 100 points.
Their first back in the Championship resulted in a 10th place finish. In their second they were promoted again. Not only that but no side has conceded fewer than their 39 league goals, or kept more clean sheets than the Blades’ current total of 21.
This is despite the fact that the £4.1m (Yorkshire Post) acquisition of John Egan from Brentford last summer is their record signing. David McGoldrick, who has 15 league goals, was a free transfer from Ipswich Town. EFL and PFA team of the year midfielder Oliver Norwood cost just £2m (Sky Sports).
The majority of their squad were playing for United in League One. Now Wilder has guided them to the top tier of English football.