Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has described Chris Basham as being like “gold dust” following his impressive start to the new Championship season.
Despite predominately performing defensive duties since the beginning of last season, the 29-year-old has been deployed in midfield in recent weeks as part of a tactical shift designed to accommodate the on-loan Cameron Carter-Vickers.
Although Wilder recently acknowledged that being handed a fixed position had benefitted Basham’s game, he said: “Bash will play anywhere for this club and he’s a damn good footballer. The most important thing for him is the team. He’ll do whatever is asked of him and always puts others before himself. Seriously, players like that are gold dust for managers. You can’t have enough people with that type of attitude.”
Basham was again handed a more advanced role when United were beaten at Nottingham Forest three days ago. Wilder, whose side returns to action when Ipswich Town visit Bramall Lane next weekend, appeared wedded to a 3-5-2 system during his first year at the helm. However, after leading them to the League One title, he has demonstrated greater tactical flexibility during a run of games which sees United enter the international break ...in the table. It is a situation, given United’s injury record, borne partly out of necessity. But also, Wilder explained, design.
“Last year, with all due respect to the teams in League One, we could turn up knowing ‘this is how we play’,” he continued. “We knew, if we brought out ‘A game’, the chances were, we would win the game. But, given the difference in the standard of the competition this year, we’ve got to be a little bit more aware.”
“We still focus on us,” Wilder added. “We still have the attitude that we should be more bothered about ourselves than the opposition. But we also have to be a lot more thoughtful; both before and during the games themselves.”
United slipped to third in the table following their defeat at the City Ground although Wilder, speaking after the match, attributed the result to poor fortune rather than their decision to change shape. Certainly, had they not overcome both Sheffield Wednesday and Wolverhampton Wanderers before the visit to Nottinghamshire, United’s approach to the fixture could have been questioned. But those victories, combined with the quality of their display against Mark Warburton’s team, should render any criticism obsolete.
“I genuinely felt we deserved more,” Wilder said. “Unfortunately, although we don’t like it, it happens.”