David Brooks has admitted Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder was right to read his team the riot act ahead of Friday night’s pivotal game against Bristol City.
Wilder could be heard lambasting United’s players behind their dressing room draw following last weekend’s defeat at Millwall, before emerging to tell the media their performance “did not represent what this club is all about” during a furious post-match address.
The result saw fourth-placed United lose further ground on the automatic promotion places, while City climbed above them into third after beating Middlesbrough.
Although Wilder’s words have cast a shadow over their preparations for the visit of Lee Johnson’s side, Brooks acknowledged his anger was justified and insisted it will serve as an extra motivation over the Christmas period.
“It’s not nice but we deserved it,” the Wales international said. “The manager isn’t one to shy away from telling us, he’s honest and passionate. When we haven’t been good enough, he’ll tell us. When we have been good enough, he’ll tell us that too.
“He’s positive when we’ve been good. I do think we deserved a bit of a b********g and we certainly got one.”
Wilder’s diatribe - “Unacceptable is quite a harsh word to use but I’m not far off it” - will have come as a shock to the system for Brooks given his stellar progress this term. The attacker, who scored United’s goal during the 3-1 reverse - won his first senior cap for Wales last month and was recently awarded an new improved contract after impressing coaching staff since graduating from the Steelphalt Academy.
But his description of how Wilder treats his squad behind the scenes reveals why, given their otherwise impressive start to the Championship season, United’s players took the 50-year-old’s comments on the chin.
“When you haven’t been good enough and you get told,” Brooks, aged 20, continued, “You’ve got to step it up for the next game. We’re all grown-ups in there and you have to take it. Like I say, when we’ve done well we get told that as well.
“This season is a great chance for us to show what we can do. I’ve got no doubts we can respond. Training day in, day out, I know what the club is about and I know what the lads are about. We’ll take what happened in the right way, we can all take it, and we’ll try to rectify it. We’re eager to get the next game underway.”
Brooks, whose fellow academy graduate Regan Slater travelled with United to London, partnered Leon Clarke in attack at The Den. Despite failing to spark against Millwall, their partnership was the driving force behind September’s victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
“I like playing with Leon, he knows where the back of the net is,” Brooks said. “Leon is definitely the senior partner, I listen to what he tells me. All of the lads have been great to be fair. They talk to me before during and after the games to give me advice and that’s great for my development.”