Can Chris Wilder get Sheffield United out of the desert?

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So we are almost halfway through the Premier League this season with 14 games played and like every season there are clubs, players and coaches in the spotlight for right and wrong reasons.

What better team to start with than the one sitting at the end of the table?

After their recent setback at Bramall Lane, where they lost 3-2 to Manchester United, the Blades have now lost 12 of their 13 Premier League games this season and are glued to the bottom of the table with just ‘ONE’ point.

Chris Wilder’s men are now 6 points behind 19th-ranked West Brom and 9 points from safety, which, let’s be honest, is a real cause for concern for a team that was fighting for a European spot last season.

To make matters worse, the Blades’ disastrous start to the season is now officially the worst in the history of top-notch English football.

Surprisingly, their 12 losses so far this season is the same number of games they lost all of last season.

Now remember, Chris Wilder is the same coach who led the newly promoted Sheffield United’s European charge last season and came up short. At one point, the club was on the verge of entering the Champions League spots.

So what went wrong for Chris Wilder and his childhood club?

The transfer strategy went terribly wrong

All the good that Chris Wilder had done last season at Sheffield United was undone with some ‘not so good deals’ in the closed season transfer window.

The protagonist was the signing of the Liverpool youngster Rhian Brewster for a fee of 22 million that seemed like an immediate bet.

A trade deal was completed for Oliver Burke that included Callum Robinson going the other way around. A double deal was reached with Derby County for Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe for a combined fee of 7 million which were nonetheless unnecessary transfers.

Wales international Ethan Ampadu was hired from Chelsea on loan to add depth and some steel to the Blades’ defense and midfield; And to tell the truth, he seems like the only shocking signing so far.

Last but not least; Aaron Ramsdale was bought for 17 meters to fill a huge gap left between the posts by former loan officer Dean Henderson. Ramsdale has yet to justify its price, as the men of Bramall Lane maintain their shipping goals.

Wilder told BT Sport just before the Leicester game that “our recruiting is tailored to the way we play, we don’t constantly change formations, our system relies on players playing and showing some degree of consistency in terms of selection of team, and we have missed some key players. “
Although, truth be told, none of the aforementioned signings have yet to turn Bramall Lane on.

A deadly scorer

Going back to his record-breaking signing, 20-year-old Rhian Brewster was never expected to start shooting full blast for the Blades right away. Wilder knew it would take a while to settle in, but still, he wasted a large chunk of his transfer budget on this untested boy.

This is not to say that Brewster has no potential – in fact, he could end up being a regular 20-goal striker per season. But the potential is not what Chris Wilder needs right now and he should have known it better than anyone.

Last season, the Blades conceded just 39 goals in their 38 games and that’s the least a newly promoted Premier League team has conceded so far.

Wilder knew scoring goals would be very important, so he laid the groundwork for a rock-solid baseline that took some of the pressure from the Center Forwards.

Lys Mousset made his long-awaited return from injury against the Baggies at the Hawthorns, but Wilder said the Striker is not yet ready to start a game, with Oli McBurnie the center-forward’s latest casualty on the treatment table.

To highlight their troubles early on, the Blades have scored just 7 goals in 13 games with David McGoldrick as their top scorer with 4 goals (2 of which were against Man United), with McBurnie, Sander Berge and Billy Sharp scoring 1 goal. each.

Lack of Open Play goals and a 10

Another worrying statistic for Chris Wilder is that his team has become heavily reliant on set pieces goals. Only 2 of his 7 goals have come from open play this season, 3 of them from set pieces and 2 from the penalty spot.

This contrasts with his scoring record from last season, where 29 of his 39 goals were in open play and only 6 goals came from set pieces, while only 1 goal came from the penalty spot.

A solution to this lack of open play goals would be to deploy a number 10 behind the 2 Strikers to add some much-needed creativity. Last season, Wing-Back duo Enda Stevens and George Baldock were its main creators with 7 assists combined.

This season, with Stevens injured, all the pressure has shifted to Baldock to continue creating opportunities and that has clearly affected him. It is the quality of last season that has been lacking, especially in wide areas.

Chris Wilder sacrificed a No. 10 and deployed a flat midfield three last season to ward off any counterattack, but with attacks battling ideas, the theme of creativity will continue to haunt the Blades.

Replacement for Dean Henderson

Bringing in a goalkeeper from a relegated club, who by the way sent tons of goals last season, tells you everything that is going wrong on the transfer business front.
Aaron Ramsdale was bought to replace loan officer Dean Henderson.

Dean Henderson was recorded as a fan favorite during his time at Bramall Lane and Chris Wilder, with his training, did wonders for the 23-year-old. Even Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised and thanked Wilder for his hand in developing Henderson.

Aaron Ramsdale hasn’t been helped by a shaky defense in front of him, especially in the absence of Jack O’Connell and he’s been exposed more than one might imagine.


Injuries have been cruel to most teams this season due to the backlog of games, but no one has been more affected by injuries than Chris Wilder’s men.

Jack O’Connell, who was arguably their best center back last season, appears to be out for the remainder of the season with a serious knee injury he sustained in September, while midfielder John Fleck and forward Lys Mousset have also recently returned from their respective injuries. .

Speaking to BT Sport, “There would be no problem if we have a fully fit team and a stable team, especially the way we play, it hasn’t just come together,” Wilder said.

“We need everyone to be fit, it’s as simple as that. I think we’ve been really unfortunate in terms of injuries this season, all of them have been contact injuries: Fleck was, O’Connell was and Mousset was, was a tackle.

“The injuries have been unfortunate, not because of the conditioning or the way we work. But our success last season was down to consistency and continuity, especially in the knockout stages, and it gave us a platform to have consistent performances and on the back of those results.

“We haven’t had that this season, but we will carry on, as we have been doing.”
With team depth as small as Sheffield United has, the task ahead of Chris Wilder will not be any easier for him and his boys, especially with the festive period already knocking on the door.

What’s next for Chris Wilder?

No club has survived the decline with just 1 point after this stage of the season and Chris Wilder said that keeping the club of his childhood would mean everything to him.

While speaking to BT Sport, Wilder said: “It would be (survival) superior to anything the club has done for a long, long time.

“The club has had three years in the Premier League in 28-29 years, before we were promoted. Sometimes you need some clarity on where we are and what this club is fighting for.

“Everything is relative, as always, and there is a long way to go, but yes, it would be a great achievement for me and for this football club.”

Recently, Sheffield United owner Prince Abdullah praised Chris Wilder and gave him his vote of confidence saying that “he is the best coach to get us out of the current situation.

“If he was not the team’s coach, I would hire him now and if the worst comes to the worst and we are relegated, I think he is the coach to recover quickly. It’s a long season, but we’ll stick with Chris no matter what. ”

To which Wilder responded, I have to respect, and we all have to respect, that the owners have the right to make that decision. “

“I don’t think I agree with him (Prince Abdullah). I am not valuable enough or arrogant enough to know that the results of all of us so far at this football club have not been good enough and I have to assume full responsibility for that. “

Chris Wilder and his men have a long and difficult season ahead of them, and the real test begins now for the Blades. As Oliver Norwood said on social media, “Hard times don’t last, people last”

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