Chris Wilder last night named Leon Clarke among the “one or two” Sheffield United players whose reputations have not been tarnished by Tuesday’s performance against Southend.
Wilder, the United manager, admitted some members of his squad had “gone under” after conceding three goals in the opening 15 minutes of their meeting with Phil Brown’s side.
But, absolving Clarke of any responsibility for a display he branded “unacceptable”, Wilder said: “Some of them went under but Leon showed what he was all about. He chased everything and did his job. They went deep because their job was done which made it difficult for him. And that’s fair enough because, in their shoes, I would have done exactly the same thing; go deep and force the opposition to hit long diagonals. But Leon showed why he’s played at a higher level. He didn’t hide. He ran about and he got himself into goalscoring positions. He was part of a small group, possibly one or two, who did that.”
Clarke, previously of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday, has scored once since joining United from Bury earlier this summer. Despite preparing to make changes for Saturday’s visit to Millwall, the centre-forward is likely to be spared the axe after impressing coaching staff with his commitment.
“We have to manage them,” Wilder said. “Some of the players have played a big clubs. So technically and tactically they’ve got it. That (Southend) was nothing to do with tactics or formations because, if it was, I’m bright enough to change it and work out the best way. It’s about individual errors, players going into their shell and not taking the right decisions.”