Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder doesn’t think Newcastle United are in a relegation battle this season.
The two teams face each other at Bramall Lane in the Premier League this evening.
The Blades are still searching for their first league win of 2020/21 and are bottom with just two points from 17 games.
Newcastle are 17 points above them in 15th position. Yet they have suffered a dip in form recently, with no win in seven matches in all competitions.
The gap between themselves and the drop zone is now eight points and boss Steve Bruce is under pressure as a result.
But Wilder doesn’t think Magpies fans should worry about their team being relegated under Bruce.
“I’ll go on record again for the respect I have for Steve,” the 53-year-old told The Yorkshire Post.
“He’s done an outstanding job at a passionate, and not always easy football club to manage. And he’s done that with dignity and yet again they’re going to be a Premier League club next season. They will look for a big finish to this campaign.
“Newcastle have some exciting players and attacking players, and quality right the way through. Steve has got them at it and playing well. It will be tough for us, but it’s up to us to find a way to nullify their threats and try to win the game.”
Shouldn’t Wilder be targeting Newcastle?
There’s always a difference between what a manager says publicly and what he’s actually telling his players. Of course there is.
In general, Wilder leans on the side of respect to opposition bosses during media appearances. Less mind games and more compliments.
In reality, though, Wilder and his team should be looking at Newcastle as a team to be dragging into a relegation scrap.
If the Blades are to achieve the seemingly impossible and avoid the drop this term, then they need to bring other sides into it.
Victory against the Magpies tonight would slightly close what is already a very large gap. Burnley, Brighton and Hove Albion, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion also sit between them.
Making it three from six would give the Blades a much better chance of staying up.
Wilder may say Newcastle won’t be relegated, but really he should be trying to actively make that happen.