Jose Mourinho once revealed he had no interest in players beyond his starting eleven, arguing that investing time and energy on those unavailable for selection was an utter waste of time.
Chris Wilder has the utmost respect for his managerial counterpart but, speaking ahead of Friday’s game against Bristol City, revealed he takes a markedly different approach.
“I really feel for the guys not playing,” Wilder said. “They want to play football. I could make some easy decisions, but I know they are not the right decisions. My job is to make the right decision for the football club. I will always do that.
“I am sympathetic to all those guys, we talk regularly. They are the most important people in the football club, 100 per cent, the guys who are pushing, who we have to keep spirits high, and won’t allow first-team players to rest.
“The 11 that play are alright. They don’t need any managing, or need me to put an arm around them. It’s the other boys, and that is tough, and where we possibly work harder to keep those boys ready.”
Despite citing competition for places as a factor behind United’s impressive results in the Championship so far - they enter the meeting with City ranked fourth - Wilder has another good reason to canvass the thoughts and opinions of those presently unable to secure a place in his matchday plans. With the January transfer window looming large on the horizon, coaching staff are determined to keep a tight rein on numbers after the 50-year-old, a lifelong United supporter, expressed concerns about the bloated nature of previous squads.
Wilder, who has spoken of his desire to make “three or four” new acquisitions, acknowledges that poor housekeeping could have serious implications for both team spirit and future expenditure at Bramall Lane.
“In the past, when I was back here as a fan, I remember squad lists with numbers going into the forties,” Wilder, a lifelong United supporter, said. “We have a number that we think is manageable and we’ll stick to that.”
With that in mind, United are investigating the possibility of allowing Ben Heneghan and Nathan Thomas to leave South Yorkshire on loan next month to further their developments. Wilder is convinced both will prove to be valuable signings despite failing to make their league debuts for the club following moves from Motherwell and Hartlepool respectively. Both were involved in last week’s behind-closed-doors friendly with Oldham Athletic, together with the likes of James Hanson, Samir Carruthers and Clayton Donaldson.
“I do believe all the players that we have talked about, will play a part for us this year,” Wilder said. “When they do get in, the opportunity is now for them to stay in, and be one of those 11 that I don’t have to deal with.”