Sheffield United: Wilder blasts nonsensical midfield notion

Chris Wilder and Alan Knill expect their midfielders to perform a variety of roles
Chris Wilder and Alan Knill expect their midfielders to perform a variety of roles
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Sheffield United’s midfielders will be allowed to express themselves next season.

Chris Wilder made the undertaking after revealing that new signing John Fleck is unlikely to be deployed in the deep-lying role he performed at Coventry City last term.

John Fleck in action for Coventry City against Sheffield United last season �2016 Sport Image all rights reserved

John Fleck in action for Coventry City against Sheffield United last season �2016 Sport Image all rights reserved

Fleck agreed a three year contract with United on Friday evening before flying to La Manga for a warm-weather training camp.

Asked how he plans to harness the former Scotland under-21 international’s talents, Wilder said: “It does my head in when people talk about sitting midfield players, attacking midfield players and all of that. Most of it doesn’t mean anything at all.

“Do you know what? Just be a midfield player. Tackle, get on the ball, pass it and get forward. Simple.

“Seriously, I hear a lot of nonsense spoken about what people have got to do in there. Really, all a midfielder should be focusing on is doing what a midfielder is supposed to do. Including those four things for a start.”

Chris Wilder has issued his instructions to John Fleck and the rest of Sheffield United's midfield ahead of the new season

Chris Wilder has issued his instructions to John Fleck and the rest of Sheffield United's midfield ahead of the new season

Fleck, aged 24, was named City’s player-of-the-year last season. Despite possessing a powerful shot, he scored only four goals in 43 outings after being used primarily as a midfield anchor by Wilder’s counterpart Tony Mowbray.

Fleck, who progressed through the ranks at Rangers before leaving Ibrox following the establishment of a newco, described how a “general football chat” with Wilder convinced him to join United having completed four seasons in the Midlands.

“There were lots of clubs who wanted John,” Wilder said. “We got him in and I thought he had a little bit of a glint in his eye so we didn’t want him to leave the building.

“We know what John can do, we know what he’s capable of and we think he can get even better here with us, improve as a football club improves.

“It’s important to let people do what they are good at.”