Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, admits his team must learn from past mistakes when they play their first away match in League One since conceding a late equaliser against Charlton Athletic last month.
United travel to Coventry City on Thursday evening for a game which could see them draw level on points with leaders Scunthorpe.
Having spent large parts of the season leaping to the defence of his players at the first sign of criticism, Wilder made no attempt to disguise his frustration following their 1-1 draw at The Valley nearly three weeks ago, accusing them of failing to translate chances into goals during a match United dominated for long spells.
Speaking ahead of the trip to the Ricoh Arena, the 49-year-old said: “If we are on top, we’ve got to punish people because, if that doesn’t happen, we know how things can work out. Nobody gives you anything in football, you’ve got to work hard and it’s important that hard work counts.”
United will enter the match, which has been rescheduled after being selected for live television broadcast, third in the table following last weekend’s 4-0 victory Swindon Town.
“I’ll always back the lads, no matter what, if they are giving everything,” Wilder said. “Which they have been doing, for us as staff, for themselves and for the football club. But it’s frustrating if you see so much good stuff go to waste because we haven’t been ruthless enough. We’ll get better the longer we’re together as a group but that’s something we know we can improve on.”
Meanwhile, centre-half James Wilson continued his recovery from injury by captaining United under-23’s during their Professional Development League fixture against Crewe Alexandra last night.