BLADES ON TOP BUT FAR FROM PERFECT
MANAGER Chris Wilder has challenged Championship leaders Sheffield United to strive for “perfection” as they chase promotion to the Premier League.
After a day when the three leading Yorkshire clubs all spent time in top spot – Middlesbrough’s draw with Derby County saw them leapfrog Leeds United, who started Saturday as leaders, but who were held to a 1-1 draw by Nottingham Forest in the teatime encounter after the Blades beat Wigan 4-2 to reach the summit – Wilder believes there is more to come from his front-runners.
United were second-best in the first half at Bramall Lane, but took the lead through Chey Dunkley’s own goal before Billy Sharp’s hat-trick secured a hardearned three points.
Wigan manager Paul Cook hailed the Blades, stating: “Sheffield United are, for me, the outstanding team in the division. Other teams might have better individual players, but they are the best team.
“Sheffield United are, for me, a very complete team, they work so hard for each other and they played some really great football.”
Wilder was less enthusiastic about United’s performance. He said: “There’s still things we need to do, we are not there.
“We are not an arrogant team, the players were a little bit subdued in there afterwards. They understand that they weren’t at their best, there’s no kidding them, they are good, honest footballers.
“From my point I thought the scoreline was flattering for us.
“There was a little bit of realism in the changing room after the game.
“I thought we were excellent on Tuesday night (in a 1-1 draw with Stoke City). Someone said to me we gave the ball away three times in the second half and that’s not a bad ratio in a football game against Stoke City.
“There were a lot of really good things on Tuesday night, but not so many good things [on Saturday]. But you are not always going to be at your best, and you never turn down a win.
“I am after perfection in what we do. We have to strive for that, being good from box to box, and in both boxes, being good for 95 minutes, under pressure, on top.
“We ask that question all the time, and we have to. If we settle for mediocrity then possibly that is where you end up or even below that.
“I am delighted for the players because it’s a big win for us and I am delighted we have gone back top of the division.”
Striker Kemar Roofe insisted Leeds had taken a step in the right direction after quite literal- ly handing the Whites a 1-1 draw with Saturday evening’s Championship visitors Notttingham Forest.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side looked to be heading for only a third defeat of the season after again conceding from a corner as Jack Robinson headed Forest into an 11thminute lead.
But after United had squandered a host of chances Roofe put Leeds level by bundling home a Mateusz Klich cross from close range with his arm with eight minutes to go.
Roofe said he had unintentionally handballed, but the incident was not spotted by referee Geoff Eltringham and his team who the player simply said were responsible for allowing or disallowing the goal.
The draw nevertheless dropped Leeds from top spot into second – two points behind Sheffield United – but Roofe said United were still making progress in their attempt to achieve their objective of promotion come May.
“It’s one point in the right direction, with a bit of frustration,” said Roofe.
“Forest are one of the favourites to go up and we knew it was going to be tough.
“But we grinded it out and we managed to get a result.”
Reflecting on dropping from top spot into second, Roofe said: “To be honest we don’t really look at the league because it doesn’t mean anything at the moment.
“No one has won anything right now, no one is getting promoted right now.
“It’s all about the end of the season, but we will keep plugging away and hopefully we are there at the end of the season.
“We’ve got a result from this game and we are another point in the right direction.”
HAT-TRICK HERO: Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp with the match ball after his hat-trick.