Chris Wilder believes it is vital players are not shielded from the truth after defending his decision to suggest some members of Sheffield United’s squad have become complacent following the club’s impressive start to life back in the Championship.
But Wilder, the United manager, insisted he has no doubts about the character of a team which enters Friday’s game against Bristol City fourth in the table, only eight months after gaining promotion from League One.
Wilder, who was fiercely critical of United’s performance during last weekend’s defeat by Millwall, said: “It’s how I manage. I’m going to say it like it is. There’s been a lot of plaudits going around.
“If I haven’t enjoyed watching my team, they have to know that. I speak more positively about my team than possibly any manager in this division. I love the attitude of the group, I love the way they drive the game forward, I love the way they go about it.
“But they also have to see the other side. If players do get carried away, it needs nipping and nipping hard.”
United return to action when Bristol City, the side directly above them in the table, visit Bramall Lane on Friday night and Wilder hopes they have learnt a valuable lesson from what proved a chastening experience at The Den.
“I don’t want people thinking all we have to do is turn up and others roll over,” he said. “That we can play around people rather than go through them first. Ever since I’ve been a manager, you have to compete, you have to win tackles, headers and races to get a result. Then, there’s got to be something on the end of it. If you don’t do enough, you open it up for the opposition.”
“If you give an opportunity to the opposing team, to stick it on you, not to win the first ball or get on the second, they get up a head of steam. The character of the team is good and it always has been good. We got back on level terms against Millwall and, second-half, we should have stepped on the gas. But the goals we conceded were c**p. The goals were poor.”
United climbed to the top of the table when they beat Burton Albion four matches ago but, just over a fortnight later, now trail leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers by 10 points.
“We didn’t do enough when we were on top,” said. “They did. We’ll dissect the game but we knew what was happening. I don’t want us to be a spike team but our last performance was a spike performance. We’ve got so much more to do to progress and get better.”