Chris Wilder has defended his Sheffield United team following their 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.
It’s now four successive Premier League losses for the Blades following this latest result.
They’ve lost 21 of their 26 league matches this season and remain bottom of the table with just 11 points.
United are now 15 points from safety and relegation to the Championship looks like a matter of when, rather than if.
Yet once again their performance wasn’t that bad. Aaron Ramsdale was superb in the first half to keep the score goalless at the break.
Oli McBurnie should have scored, while one individual mistake and then an unlucky deflection cost them.
These aren’t excuses, but despite the lowly position of Wilder’s side, they have rarely been truly outplayed tin 2020/21.
Injuries haven’t helped, with their entire first choice back line of last term – when they finished ninth – currently sidelined.
In fact, only three players from the first team squad haven’t missed at least some game time this campaign because of injury or illness.
That would be tough for any top flight team to contend with, but especially one with a tiny budget in comparison to those they’re trying to compete with.
What Chris Wilder had to say after Liverpool loss
“I’m looking at their faces in the changing room. They’re absolutely giving everything,” Wilder told Sky Sports afterwards.
“I think it’s quite easy for people to question that. They wouldn’t if they knew the players and what I’m looking at and seeing.
“This is a really tough gig for them. It’s a tough gig for all of us at the moment, because of the season that we’ve had.”
Wilder continued: “They (the players) mirror the spirit of the supporters, they mirror the club, they mirror how I want my team to play and go about their business. I don’t think anyone can question their attitude and their commitment.
“They’re giving everything and at times you’re just not good enough and haven’t got that quality to really compete.”
This may sound a little defeatist from Wilder, although some will probably see it as realistic.
Few could really argue with what he is saying, though. The players don’t look like they’ve given up, but just aren’t perhaps good enough.
Losing Jack O’Connell, John Egan, Chris Basham, Sander Berge and John Fleck for large periods of time was always going to take its toll. Recruitment could also be questioned.
But what can’t be, is the commitment still being shown. Even when staying up is no longer an option – even if not yet mathematically confirmed.