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When will the so called ‘experts’ wake up to Sheffield United’s brilliance?

We need to talk about lazy punditry.

On paper, with very little background research, Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United may look like a side who will revert back to basics in their bid for Premier League survival this season.

Two banks of four and a direct approach, because that’s what most promoted sides do when they graduate to the big time.

Don’t antagonise him

PA:Press Association
Don’t antagonise him

But Wilder and the Blades aren’t like the rest.

Only Pep Guardiola has a higher win percentage in England’s top five leagues over the last three years than Wilder, who is working wonders on a shoestring budget.

Yet they were written off before a ball had even been kicked this season – and they’re still being written off now – because of their supposed ‘basic’ style.

Take Danny Mills for instance.

A unique bond with every player

A unique bond with every player

In the week running up to the start of the season, the former England defender told Sky Sports News: “Sheffield United is not a glamorous club.

“It’s not the most glamorous way of playing. They might play a little direct at times. They’ll be similar to Cardiff.”

Similar to Cardiff.

Now would that be because Cardiff are now managed by Neil Warnock, the man in charge of the Blades the last time they were in the top flight 12 years ago?

The cold hard facts are that Warnock and Wilder’s tactics couldn’t differ more.

The last time I checked Cardiff weren’t deploying overlapping centre-backs, a strategy even Guardiola didn’t bring to English football.

The Sheffield Ancelotti

The Sheffield Ancelotti

No that’s Wilder’s brainchild, a conveyor belt-like system similar to Whac-A-Mole in that just when you think you’ve got one hole plugged, another player pops up.

In the Championship last season they were in the bottom half for aerial duels won and the top half for ratio of short to long passes. But yeah, they’re direct and just like Cardiff.

The lack of respect continued on Final Score this weekend when Garth Crooks had his say on the Blades.

After falling behind at Chelsea, Crooks said: “They lack potency up front and quite frankly their style of football is quite basic for the Premier League.”


Of course Crooks was handed a large dollop of humble pie as United mounted a brilliant comeback to snatch a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Enda Stevens and George Baldock are one of the brightest full-back/wing-back combinations in the top flight with both already notching assists this season.

Their movement up front is unpredictable, while Oliver Norwood is a sumptuous player who is finally getting his long-awaited chance to shine at the highest level.

Perhaps that quixotic nature is just too much for some pundits to comprehend.

Another brilliant display at Stamford Bridge

Another brilliant display at Stamford Bridge

They see a British manager, managing an almost exclusively British squad who have played up and down the Football League and formulate their opinions from that.

In reality Wilder and co. are here to lay their own blueprints rather than follow traditions.

The Blades may lack a superstar but they are greater than the sum of their parts because of it.

With as many points as Chelsea and Man United so far, whatever they’re doing might just be working.